An Identity-Shaping Summer
- by Kelly Yao
This summer, while some of my friends are working in metropolitan cities, volunteering in third-world countries or simply relaxing at home, I stayed in Philly and looked for a job. I came across a “Student Researcher and Project Admin” position for the Wharton Future of Advertising Program (WFoA) on the Penn Student Employment Office website.
I immediately applied and interviewed, and after a few weeks, I was notified that I had gotten the position. For the past two months, I have worked closely with the entire WFoA team as they prepared for the much-anticipated “Co-Creating Advertising 2020” seminar. The seminar was presented by Jerry Wind, the Lauder Professor of Marketing, and Catharine Hays, the executive director of WFoA, at the Cannes Lions 60th International Festival of Creativity in June 2013.
To give a little bit of background, the Advertising 2020 project asked more than 200 leaders from around the world to share their ideas on what advertising could look like in eight years, and what they could do to get there. My main task was to collaborate with the WFoA program coordinator, Alexa de los Reyes, and a group of other student researchers to identify 10 recurring response categories and find relevant examples to go with them. My other tasks included maintaining the WFoA website and engaging contributors on Twitter. During the last two weeks before the seminar, I worked closely with Professor Wind and Hays on the PowerPoint presentation, fine-tuning the themes we wanted to emphasize.
During the week leading up to the event, I stayed late at the office or worked remotely from home, finalizing slides and making last-minute adjustments to the presentation. In the end, everyone’s hard work paid off. After the event, it felt great reading Hays’ email informing us that the presentation was a success. Many of our themes for the future of advertising resonated with the attendees and many were interested in experimenting with the concepts we presented.
Hays even told me that after the presentation, a line of people gathered outside their dressing room, wanting to take part in the Advertising 2020 project. Most importantly, I was excited to hear that people in the advertising and marketing industry felt more empowered to challenge the traditional agency model as a result of taking part in the project.
For me, this summer was about exploring different paths as I get ready to select a major. These past couple of months have really opened my eyes to what advertising and marketing has to offer, both as a concentration and as an ever-evolving industry. I have really enjoyed working with the WFoA team. They have taught and showed me so much in just a short amount of time: how to clearly report findings and work under pressure, and how to keep my eyes alert for the coming changes in the industry. While I haven’t declared a major yet, my time with WFoA has led me to consider pursuing a combination that Professor Wind highly encouraged: a dual-degree major in finance and marketing.