Importance of Professional/Collegiate Partnerships

I started this wise tale with the working title, “My Advice to my 18-Year-Old Self,” for a hot minute before I decided that no one needs to hear the cringey, “study more, party less line.” (I can see my focus group of one, my 19-year-old son at UW La Crosse, rolling his eyes right now.)

Those who know me, know my love for Crockett Johnson’s wonderfully illustrated tale, Harold and the Purple Crayon. So much, that it inspired a work program with my former team in 2008. (You can read more about that here: .) This books timeless appeal lies in how it conveys the power of imagination and how individuals can affect the world around them, not just through art but journalism, science, and technology.

The advice I would share with any collegiate is to create your own destiny. How? Take advantage of the wealth of classes, opportunities, and clubs that are available through school. Network.

Meet new people. Explore subjects outside your field of study. Volunteer. Travel. There seems to be so many more opportunities now than when I was in school, and I am envious of that.

“A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of you to show you how they did it. A mentor walks alongside you to show you what you can do.”

In my current role as VP of Collegiate Relations for the professional chapter of the American Marketing Association, I have the privilege of working with aspiring marketing collegiates. Now that we have more in person events, I look forward to making meaningful connections that create a chance to both learn from others and share my marketing and life journey.

There are many ways to bridge the gap between the professional and collegiate chapter. This September, I had the pleasure of chatting with AMA National’s Luis Sierra, Director, Collegiate Communities, to pick his brain on creative ways to support our Madison collegiate chapter. In addition to our yearly scholarship program, Sierra encouraged events like professional panels, career fairs, and a few out-of-the-box ideas that I didn’t think of like combined chapter community service opportunities and speed networking.

He then shared three big ideas on the value of a professional and collegiate partnership:

  1. First and foremost, the indispensable community building, networking and mentoring opportunities that can be fostered among members of our collegiate and professional chapters. From attending and supporting one another’s events, and collaborating to host some together, to the individual connections that can be built between student and professional. It all demonstrates the tremendous value that comes from being a part of the AMA community for both student and professional members.
  2. Second, these partnerships strengthen the bridge-building for our emerging marketers (this is what we call our recent graduates – those who started their journey at the AMA at the collegiate level and are now continuing their career path after graduation). As they begin their careers, we want them to continue seeing the AMA as their “essential community,” and the ideal way to do so is through the support they can find in professional chapters. In fact, some of our current AMA Professional chapter leaders started at the AMA Collegiate level!
  3. Third, not only is there much that our collegiate members can learn from the professional members in their area, both as students and as emerging marketers, but opportunities to partner and build community can bring out the incredible talent and creativity that student marketers bring, as not only the future of the marketing field, but as a big part of what defines its present.

As timing would have it, the AMA has just announced the launch of their First Generation Mentor Program. A program supporting undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college. I encourage all collegiate readers that fit the qualifications to take advantage of this. We hope to provide the environment, advice, and resources for these students to pursue their career interest in marketing and advertising. I also invite any seasoned marketer to generously donate your time to be a mentor.

In closing, I ponder once more — would I do 18 all over again? As much as I enjoyed the cobblestone pathways at Ohio University and the comradery with my sorority sisters, I couldn’t be more excited to see what lies ahead. I’m just getting started with the UW Madison AMA leadership team and I look forward to creating a beneficial relationship together, a fun event or two, and an avenue to inspire them to see what they’ll do with their own purple crayon!

By: Brooke Barney

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