Last night, I taught my first advertising class at the Fashion Institute of Technology, teaching a Senior Portfolio Design class. I hope the students enjoyed it, because I had a blast. What I found was a group of students who were eager to get better, eager to learn, and eager to get a job in the industry.
I was thrilled.
Teaching a class is a little like opening a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump said, “you never know what you’re going to get.” I’ve taught before at the School of Visual Arts, and it was a completely different experience. There were some very talented students and some people who were never going to be good in the field.
But last night was different.
Last night, I met 14 people who all could be very good in this industry. All have the potential to be special. I was struck immediately with these things:
There are some incredible designers. The work all looks clean and crisp. Even the work that wasn’t very conceptual, still looked great. Heck, I may hire one of the students to redesign this blog site. The design work is far, far, far superior to the conceptual work (so far).
This is an area that needs a little help. The ideas are there. Sometimes they’re a little buried, but they’re there. The students have done most of the hard work. But to make some of these concepts great, they need a little more help in the copy department. Luckily, I’m a copywriter. I’m going to need to push harder in this area.
We’re going to work hard on selling. When I asked the students what they wanted to get out of the class, almost all wanted help in presenting their work. How to talk about their ideas. How to sell their ideas. How will it hold up in the real world? When I told them that I planned to videotape them in an interview setting and let them watch it, they all squirmed a little in their seats. Clearly this will be a little hard. But the more we practice, the better they’ll get.
Really Fun, Nice People:
I was also struck with how nice everyone was. If there was a prima donna in the group, it didn’t show itself last night. (Perhaps I was the prima donna of the group!) Everyone was welcoming, helpful, fun, funny, interesting and had a point of view.
There is a fear that their work won’t hold up in the ‘real world.’ They are all aware that school work and real world work is very different. They are welcoming my real world experience and ask that I be brutally honest. I promise to do that.
Well, one week is in the books. 14 more weeks to go. I’m looking forward to what the future holds. As someone once said in a movie ‘stick with me kid, I’ll make you a star.’ I promise to do everything I can to make sure these students are prepared to get jobs in this industry.
I also promise to curse less. But don’t hold me to it.