By Luis Vargas

Very rarely does it feel like we, as students, get an opportunity to take a peek within the dynamics of the advertising industry. Yes, we have clubs and internships that help pave our understanding of promotion and hone our skills in messaging. However, a sense of urgency and energy are lost as we are exposed to the morphing reality of advertising – through news articles, blog posts and podcasts. Nevertheless, when given the opportunity to pull back the curtain, the spirit of the industry can come alive and inspire.

Few of us fortunate students were given the opportunity to learn at AAF’s 2016 Insight + Interaction Conference held in the Windy City. This conference drew together advertising hopefuls from across the nation, furthering exposure to the industry through agency visits and lectures from seasoned professionals. Students traveling up from Urbana-Champaign were welcomed by Schafer Condon Carter: the agency of record for native Giordano’s and the beloved Chicago Cubs. In addition to experiencing the lively bustle of the city and exploring the amenities of the industry, students gained an inside perspective on the strategy of large scale campaigns. Overall, this enabled students to gain a better understanding of successful advertising and its influence on culture.

 The remainder of the weekend focused on the conference itself, which featured over 25 individuals of creative, strategy, and general talent from various agencies and clients.

Hosted by the Chicago Portfolio School, the lectures discussed a variety of topics – from networking and interviewing advice, to novel forms of branding and rising trends in advertising.  

Furthermore, sessions were broken into specialized fields, allowing for more in-depth and specific engagement on niche preferences. Despite the diverse subjects of discussion, themes focused on the human side of advertising and commitment to improvement. 

As the speakers revealed insight and offered advice, they emphasized that it is not only important to be inspired as advertising students, but to inspire others as advertising students.