Just a couple of days after Michigan State University released students for winter break, I had an amazing opportunity to travel to the Windy City with 38 other students and two faculty members. During this experience with ADV 402, a field experience course offered at ComArtSci, we visited several companies in the advertising and public relations field. We were able to make connections with MSU alumni, and gain a firm grasp on how the communications industry thrives in Chicago.
My study away trip was insightful, reassuring and most importantly, fun! Each student was assigned to their own itinerary for the week, which included a list of companies and times that we had to report to each one. While our faculty leaders John Besley and Andy Corner were there to make sure things ran smoothly, each student was primarily responsible for their own transportation to each site, living arrangements, food and free time, which we all made sure to take great advantage of.
Our group visited a total of 22 companies in a span of four days. Students were given the option to arrive in Chicago a day early to explore and prepare for a non-required visit Monday morning at the top public relations firm in the United States, Edelman. For me, this addition to the trip wa
s extra exciting because I plan to build a career in Public Relations. As a bonus, Edelman has been on my radar as a potential place to work for quite some time. Some of my best friends came on the trip as well, so we took an early train in on Sunday morning and had a free day to walk around, eat some Lou Malnati’s pizza (yum), and soak in the city lights before our busy week.
A common message that a lot of these companies went by was that a company’s collaborative, fun culture is the key to success. Going by the “work hard, play hard” motto, employers stressed how important it is to consider your co-workers as family and friends, while also maintaining close relationships with them outside of the office. One of my favorite takeaways from this trip was hearing the stories from MSU alumni about how they got to where they are today. As some students have already started to hit the panic button because they haven’t found a job yet, these employers made sure to emphasize how success will find its way if we stay persistent, confident and true to our values.
On Tuesday night, we had a student and alumni mixer set up for us at a restaurant called BlackFinn. Since going to each company consisted of group tours and soaking in a lot of information, it was difficult to stand out and talk to employers one-on-one. This was a great chance to be more personal with the alumni, exchange business cards and ask last-minute questions about their work. This is always a great way to relieve stress while getting to know everybody on a personal and professional level –my favorite portion of our week.
As my second study away experience with ADV 402 (first being in Los Angeles), I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of these special opportunities. To gain perspective from a wide range of professionals, while building connections at the same time, isn’t something you get in the classroom. My eyes have been opened on these trips because now I know what I want to do and don’t want to do, where I want to end up, and I have a great list of contacts to help me along the way.
Thank you to #ComArtSci, our alumni and our universal Spartan Network!
By Emmy Virkus
Full list of Companies:
Big Ten Network
Fishman Public Relations