Our Industry Needs To Improve Our Industry Education For Colleges

No matter where you are in your career, at some point you decided to roll with the path you were on.

You might have started in an entry-level account management, advertising sales, insights or basic brand management role. You learned about various aspects of marketing and advertising and found it kind of interesting to you. So you pushed forward and it became your career.

Most universities that offer marketing or advertising studies do an admirable job. They have a motivated faculty that tries to keep up with the times, just like all of us.

I have seen this firsthand as my son is such a student.

Much to my surprise, he chose to follow in his family’s footsteps and studied Communications with Integrated Marketing (all but one of his parents and one grandparent were in advertising or marketing).

We are now one month away from his graduation. This will be a momentous day in our family -- as thanks to COVID, we did not have anything remotely like a high school graduation event at all. So this is the one!



Over the last four years I have followed along with his trials and tribulations of college life and being an Integrated Marketing student.

I have seen some of the social media education efforts and they seem relevant and on point. I have seen some of the case studies and marketing challenges the students have worked on and they were in keeping with the industry today. I have been very pleasantly surprised to see that the school embraced AI early on, with some professors encouraging its use in a responsible manner.

What I have not seen is a major involvement of “the industry.” Sure, my son is not at Stanford University or NYU. But involvement from the advertising and marketing community has largely been the responsibility of local news media, businesses and agencies.

However, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is to be applauded for the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF) initiative.

The AEF focuses on creating and delivering educational programs on college campuses across the country. It aims to improve understanding and appreciation of the role that advertising and marketing play in society and to attract high-quality college graduates to the advertising industry.

The program appears to be mostly “on demand,” meaning a college would have to approach the AEF for a speaker, or for their professors to participate in the continued learning program.

Again, this is an admirable program, and I am glad it exists. I just wished it would reach more universities, without the burden of cost placed on them, especially colleges whose student bodies need all the (financial) help they can get.

But… the ANA is doing much better than its agency equivalent, the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Other than a local, Manhattan-focused high school program, I could not find any meaningful initiatives aimed at pointing students towards a career in advertising. Clearly, this is left to the various agencies themselves. Some do a great job of partnering with colleges, and some are completely absent.

What that really means is during your college years as a marketing student, you may either never meet with or hear from an agency person in any discipline at all, or you might meet with a local or national agency representative if by luck of the draw your college and that agency have somehow connected.

That is sad.



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