Networking with the leaders of tomorrow

POSTED BY Robert Zwiebel on Mar 24, 2016

A few weeks ago, along with VP of Client Services Maureen Estep, I flew east to visit the University of Oklahoma and attend Top Jobs 2016, the school’s 5th annual networking forum. This is the second year in a row that Debbie Yount invited us to participate. She is a major force behind the Top Jobs production and co-sponsor Lindsey + Asp, the student-led advertising agency on campus. Representatives from many different agencies were there to share insights and discover new talent.

Over the three-day event, our time was split between larger panel discussions, smaller group sessions and quick 1:1 interviews. Although the timeline was stacked with meetings and dinners, the operation was super smooth and the students who ran the event were on top of every detail including meals and transportation. We were lucky to have the best drivers, Regan Wallace and Jered Deimund, who made the event that much better by looking after us so well and taking care of everything we needed.

One of the most impressive aspects of the entire event included the students themselves. Blurring the lines between student and professional, they run a full-service advertising agency on campus with little direction from their professors, working with real clients, solving real problems on real projects. They are beating out professionals at their own game, coming in with fresh ideas and limitless ambition. Our driver Regan has already won three ADDYs and she hasn’t even graduated. We were so impressed by Emma Hunsaker at last year’s event we hired her on the spot.

Attending an event like this as a creative was a little different for me. The majority of the panelists were recruiters, but as someone with my hands in the work, I offered a different perspective to who we are at Hornall Anderson, and what we are looking for in new talent. As a brand experience agency, we’re a little different ourselves. We talked a lot about the foundational elements of brand and our involvement in the creative process. We also talked a lot about just being good people. I fundamentally believe in being hard on the work, all while being good to one another. It’s a big part of who we are culturally and it influences everything we do.

A few of the bigger takeaways we emphasized included:

• Brand experience is at the heart of everything we do.

• The importance of working with a diverse group of people who think differently from one another, yet share like-minded goals.

• Powerful work comes from great relationships and a vibrant culture.

•  A great idea can come from anywhere.

I had never been to Oklahoma, but I loved it. Places are often defined by their people and Oklahoma has great people. It was a long three days and I left feeling exhausted, but also have a desire to get to work. Hanging out with young, vibrant students can have that effect. Hopefully we left an impression about who we are and the work that we do, but I hadn’t expected to be influenced in such a positive way myself.

WRITTEN BY Robert Zwiebel

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