My first job wasn't at Hinda Incentives in Chicago. Sure, it was my first "salary + benefits" job but I wouldn't say it's where I really got my start. It was at Imagewest, the full-service agency on the campus of Western Kentucky University, my wife and I's alma mater.
It's hard to get into an internship where you have hands-on work where you can lay claim on any portfolio-worthy work to show off to a potential employer. WKU worked around that debacle when they opened up Imagewest in the Ad+PR department. It's literally an ad agency. We made money for the company, called clients for new business opportunities, pitched ideas and created work from the ground up. We weren't fetching coffee or doing busy work - we were adding value to a real company. Though we worked for free, the experience was extremely valuable. So valuable that when I graduated in 2009 in a bottomed-out job economy, all of my coworkers that graduated with me that year all landed jobs before the year was out.
Was Cool...Now Wall Street Journal Cool
When I was working at Imagewest, they had just recently launched a summer program where a group of students would travel abroad and work on a campaign for a client overseas. That's cool in itself. Then I saw that their efforts got a nod in the Wall Street Journal this week.
I don't know the students involved in the story. However, I'm proud of the group I worked with at Imagewest and proud of how far that organization has come in garnering great media attention. In addition, Imagewest alum are working for some of the biggest and/or coolest ad shops across the country. Not bad for a student-run shop!
Also, in case you were curious on "building a portfolio" as a student, you can check out one project I helped with here on Behance (keep in mind this was made 5 years ago). My original background was in broadcast advertising and online video so I was tasked with making this video below to help promote our agency. Fun times, though I don't miss the long hours spent in the video editing lab. Don't make fun of me too much.