By: Madeline Rose

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Every spring our organization piles onto busses and invades the Chicago advertising scene. This year, over 100 AAF members took part in visiting agencies and networking with advertising and media company executives. The trip also included Interface- an opportunity to dine and chat up AAF alums and agency representatives.  Members were promised an opportunistic experience, and they came away with a conceptual feel for how advertising agencies function as well as fistfuls of good memories.

A Q&A with AAF members who attended AdVasion

Why did you decide to go to AdVasion?

“I’ve never been to an advertising agency, so I was curious to see what they are like, since I’ll be working at an advertising agency in the future.  I also wanted to network and meet alumni and receive advice about college and the industry.”- Jaclyn Schwartz, Freshman

“I did it last year and thought it was a great experience. It’s a unique opportunity only available to U of I students and it’s a phenomenal way to learn more about different advertising agencies and to get your foot in the door at the ones you are interested in.”- Haley Sandroff, Senior

Which agencies did you talk to? What did you gain from the networking?

“Although I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, visiting the Chicago Portfolio School proved to be the stop on the trip that provided me with the most amounts of intrigue, insight, and truly helpful advice. Jeff, the school’s founder and our primary host during our visit there, seemed to be more interested in giving us useful job-hunting tips than in getting us to attend his school. This was certainly appreciated, as well as totally selfless.”- Mitch Reeter, Junior

“Schaefer Condon Carter, Two x Four, and San Jose Group. Schaefer Condon Carter showed us several case studies that were very interesting. They also gave us overviews of how each department has contributed to various campaigns. Two x Four answered all of our questions about their agency, and the industry in general, in addition to showing us around the office. San Jose Group brought in people from various departments to give us an overview of their jobs, and answered a lot of our questions. Each agency was great and very informative.”- Kristen Gray, Senior

“I talked to a Creative Director from Leo Burnett at the networking reception, and he gave me and a few others very insightful tips on how to “sell ourselves” to an agency and find an internship.”- Molly Malec, Junior

What did you hope to get out of AdVasion going in?

“I hoped to meet more people, not just AAF members but also HR managers and current professionals in the industry. Ultimately, I hoped to get an internship out of AdVasion… and I did.”- Michelle Francisco, Senior standing

“I really just hoped to get a better understanding of how ad agencies operate and really be able to see the differences between a small agency and a large one.”- Lindsay Lowery, Junior

How did AAF prepare you for AdVasion?

“AAF definitely gave me the push to network by surrounding me with really dedicated, motivated, and passionate people. When I was a freshman in AAF, the people I was around set a high bar for me to reach by the time I am a junior or senior.”- Michelle Francisco, Senior standing

“As a senior I’ve had a lot of practice networking through the different events AAF has put on. While we’ve had speakers explain how networking works and the best ways to do it, the easiest way to get better is by attending the events to get practice. I’ve done this along the way and definitely think it has helped me become a better networker.”- Haley Sandroff, Senior

What was a favorite memory from the trip?

“Probably interface afterward. It was cool just hanging out with such a variety of people and students.”- Aaron Weiss, Sophomore


“I really enjoyed visiting Mindshare. I had a wonderful conversation with two of the alumni presenters. It also gave me a point to talk about when I interviewed for a summer internship with Mindshare. I was able to say I actually enjoyed the environment and connected with a few of the employees!”- Gordon Utendahl, Junior

Would you go again?


“YES! I would go again because it’s a great networking opportunity. You get to meet professionals in smaller groups and they WILL remember you when you follow up with your conversations the next day.”- Michelle Francisco, Senior standing

“Yes, I would be interested in going again. After hearing about the different agencies that other groups toured, I wished I could have seen them all!”- Molly Malec, Junior

“I would most definitely go again. I gained a lot of great insights and was able to meet great industry professionals but the main reason I would go again is because it was fun. I think adding fun to all of the other benefits is what makes the experience so wonderful.”- Gordon Utendahl, Junior

A thank you to Marissa Jaeckel for her successful organization of this year’s AdVasion. Members who missed out this year can look forward to AdVasion 2014.


Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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