Posts tagged ‘student advertising’

Lessons Learned, Part 4

LigiaSix months ago, I graduated from TCU and jumped right into this internship; I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely did not anticipate how much I would learn.

Working here at Zag is not like your typical internship. It’s a real job and everyday is a learning opportunity, and more importantly, a chance to get better at what you do.

Here are a few of the many things I have learned at Zag:

Control your stress, don’t let it control you. As a designer, some days the stress can be overwhelming.  You have to meet a deadline by a certain time, and your design ideas don’t seem to work. These days, stress can start to control you. Once that happens, you’re not focused anymore and your work suffers. So even on those high-pressure days, take a moment to step away and take a deep breath. Give yourself a pep talk or take a short walk. I’ve learned that just 5 minutes is enough to calm down and get back to work.

Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes, your mind is exhausted and it’s hard to come up with ideas and/or designs. You feel like you hit a wall and a project suddenly starts to seem impossible. I have learned that ideas and designs don’t always spontaneously appear — sometimes you have to look for them. Talk to people around the office; look at books; browse the Internet or just stare outside the window (my favorite). If you give it a little bit of time, one of those things will trigger a good idea instead of settling for a mediocre one that you forced out of yourself.

Lastly, I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Here at Zag we are very lucky to have GCG and Site Smart Interactive employees as resources. Their opinions and guidance have been crucial to our success, because we are all very young, and most importantly, we are all still learning about this business. I’m the kind of person that when I run into a problem, especially in web design, I want to figure it out by myself no matter how long it takes so that I can truly learn how to fix it. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the time to do that, so instead of spending over an hour figuring out a code, I can just walk down the hall and ask someone from Site Smart Interactive in a matter of minutes.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see what my fellow designer Rolando has to say!

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11/13/2009 at 2:15 AM Leave a comment

How to prepare your arsenal

RolandoAside from your resume, a solid portfolio is one of the most important tools for a designer.

It takes time and dedication to build a good portfolio, but the extra effort can mean the difference between a foot in the door and a “we’ll keep your application on file.” Before you submit your portfolio to a potential employer, here are five tips on getting your “arsenal” submission-ready:

  • Presentation.  Don’t put your work into a plain 1-inch binder.  You’ve spent countless hours on your pieces, so go all out and buy a professional (i.e. leather) portfolio.
  • Quality, not quantity.  Do not put everything you’ve created in the past four years into your portfolio.  Employers don’t want to sit there and look at all of your work.  Find your best 10 to 15 pieces and display them professionally.
  • Explanation.  Make sure to add a small paragraph to each of your pieces, explaining your thoughts and the work’s creative process. Sometimes employers like to see how you think and solve problems that they may have in the future.
  • Organization.  It doesn’t hurt to organize your portfolio.  Dividers are a good way to show your versatility on the different types of projects you’ve been able to work on.  Page numbers are also a nice touch.
  • Creativity.  Be creative in your approach.  Have a theme that ties in your personality to your work.  Nice color schemes and legible typefaces are also aspects of your theme that need to considered.  Be different – but not too different.  Let your work do the talking.

09/14/2009 at 1:00 PM Leave a comment

The conundrum of school and work

AlexIt’s Monday morning. I drag myself out of bed and go to class for three hours. After that, I find some spare time to scarf down a meal and then I’m suddenly off to work. When five o’clock rolls around, I’m driving back to TCU and sitting in class for another three hours – begging for life to stand still.

Yes, I’m pretty busy, but I’ve learned that life as an employee and student is a delicate balancing act.

And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a freshman in orientation, time management was a concept that the OSAs (orientation student assistants) would drill into our heads. It seemed simple enough. When you’re unemployed, all you have to do is go to class and somehow get your homework done (if you’re good).

Fast-forward three years and enter senior year, where I am a working at Zag and taking 15 hours this semester. This is where the balancing act goes to the circus.

Here are a couple things I’ve learned in the past week about managing valuable time:

Make a schedule and stick to it: It really helps to map out your day ahead of time, but also leave some time for yourself – for sanity’s sake.

Be very self-motivated: It’s tough to get motivated to go to work after hours of class, but I have tell you, a positive attitude works wonders.

Understand that you can’t control everything: I would love to be at work all day (yes, I’m weird), but I also need to make good grades. Some things take precedence over others; just pick your spots carefully

Unless you’re a freshman, never take an 8 a.m. class: I’m learning this lesson the hard way.

Honorable mention: You can never have too many alarm clocks; if you work and go to school, carrying a backpack to the office is not uncool; try to find a normal eating/sleeping schedule – crashing in the afternoon is no bueno.

With plenty of things coming in the next couple months (while hopefully avoiding swine flu), I think if I just stick to these mantras I should be fine.

08/31/2009 at 2:40 PM Leave a comment

Three months and counting

AlexIt was a little more than three months ago that I began my internship here at Zag; how time flies.

Here are a couple of lessons I have learned in my short experience at a budding marketing agency:

Find a mentor. You’re an intern, not the greatest thing since sliced bread. There is much to learn in the industry, so find someone or a group of people (for me, the GCG employees upstairs) to pick their brain – they’ve been at this longer than you. Potential is nothing without inspiration.

The customer is always right. The cliché monster is back, but it’s true. You may have a great idea, but the client ultimately calls the shots – they pay the bills. If you want to run with an idea, be able to back it up – and don’t cry at the first sign of rejection.

The glass is half-full. Donald Draper, the fictional creative director of Sterling-Cooper in Mad Men says, “Advertising is based on one thing – happiness.” I fully agree with this statement; keeping a positive attitude toward your co-workers, clients and ultimately your work is the key to good advertising – no one wants a product when the advertisement/collateral gives an impression of negativity, and all of this is coming from a perpetual cynic.

You’ll have good days, and you’ll have really, really bad days. Most of the time in the office, everything runs smoothly, and there are some days where everything that could go wrong does (the proverbial “crap hitting the fan” day). Sure, the world may be plotting against you, but it’s how you get through these rough patches that defines you. Again, stay positive.

Learn to notice the little things. As a copywriter or creative, this is crucial. The smallest details – punctuation, spelling, sentence placement – can ruin the message you are trying to convey. Pay attention!

Honorable mention: You live or die by the deadline (duh); if you can’t come up with an idea yourself, brainstorm with others; don’t ever pass up free Dippin’ Dots in the lobby – they’re delicious.

08/17/2009 at 9:59 AM Leave a comment

Shootin’ the breeze

LigiaRecently, I went to my first on-location photo shoot for our client Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery. I was a little apprehensive at first because it was a muggy and rainy Monday morning, and we had to drive about 30 minutes to their Weatherford location.

Did I mention I was wearing three-and-a-half inch heels that day? Not a good look when you are following a photographer around a horse ranch.

Nonetheless, I decided to tag along with Doug, GCG Marketing photographer, and Rolando, our art director.

Despite my apprehension, it turned out to be a very fun and rewarding experience. We were on location at ESMS for about three hours shooting pictures of their lab equipment, facilities and some of the horses.

It was fascinating to see how a photographer doesn’t use a camera as a piece of equipment; it’s more like an extension of them, a second pair of eyes. Dough would look out and take a mental picture of the scene in front of him, and with one look he would know exactly what lens he needed to make that shot work.

Photography is really a beautiful craft that requires special attention to details and care about what you are doing. There is just so much that goes into it that we “non-photographers” sometimes overlook. Someone who simply knows how to press the button on a camera is not a photographer. A photographer is much more than that, they know about lighting, angles, colors, layout and lenses, and how all of those elements come together to make one perfect shot.

Check out some of my favorite pictures from the photo shoot below:

08/14/2009 at 12:41 PM Leave a comment

Interviewing 101

kelsey-polaAfter completing the interview process for the fall semester, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for all of you go-getters.

Dress appropriately. I don’t particularly want to see your favorite graphic tee or torn-up blue jeans. Believe it or not, first impressions do count.

Check your spelling. If there’s a word mispelled on your resume – it’s au revoir.

Bring all of the necessary materials. If you want to be a graphic designer, I need to see some work, and if you would like to be a copywriter, I have to know you can write. If you’re not sure about what to bring – just ask!

Be nice to the secretary. She is the gatekeeper you know.

Know what you’re applying for. If you don’t even know what you’re applying for how do you expect to get the job?

Come to “wow.” We don’t have all day, so you have to be at your tip-top game to really impress. Confidence is always the key ingredient.

I’m by no means an expert, but after interviewing quite a few people, I’ve realized – as long as you’re good to go on these few tips, you’ve got the job!

08/12/2009 at 2:26 PM Leave a comment

The Pitch

kelsey-polaWhat is it about a pitch that gets your heart racing? I’d have to say the adrenaline of putting all your ideas on the table for critique is more than enough.

The ominous pitch. It’s the backbone of most agencies because it’s typically one of the primary ways to gain a new client.

You’re probably wondering what a pitch even is. To put it simply, a pitch is an initial presentation of strategies and tactics to accomplish your client’s goals and expectations. It’s usually presented in this order:

  • The team
  • Challenges
  • Market situation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Goals
  • Positioning
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Timeline

I know, it seems like a lot of ground to cover, but a pitch moves much faster than you would think.

My advice to you would be to practice, practice, practice. It really does help. And if you have any questions, just email me. Enjoy!

08/10/2009 at 1:36 PM Leave a comment

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