Senior media supervisor, Sarah Spatafora, recounts her experience speaking with students about a career in media. Viewing media through the eyes of a new generation sparked interest for not only them, but led to Sarah’s reflection on where her media journey began. Sometimes it is easy for us to get carried away in our careers, and every once in a while it grounds us to look back to the beginning and reminisce on the path we’ve taken.
This past summer, I spoke to a group of high school and college students at DC AdCamp. I excitedly walked them through a presentation, discussing the nuances of television advertising, the evolution of audio and podcasting, the wide range of offline and online mediums, and how everything plays together to reach consumers. When I talk about media, I’m passionate and animated. This is not just my career – media and advertising is a passion of mine that started when I was young.
When I was a teenager, I would thumb through my mother’s fashion magazines, ripping out full-page ads for lipstick or handbags. I would tape my favorites on the walls of my bedroom, next to posters of the Backstreet Boys or Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I would keep the truly special ones in a binder stashed under my bed, thumbing through them at night until the colors faded from the corners. I would memorize TV ad jingles and could probably still sing a few classics for you to this day. I was also part of the first generation to integrate the Internet into daily life (remember pop-up ads? I do!). Media was all around me and I leaned into it – not realizing that all of these interests were somehow foreshadowing my future career path.
But as I spoke to this room of teenagers and future young professionals about media currencies and measurements, tactics and strategies, I saw their eyes begin glaze over. Two even fell asleep. Trying to regain their attention, I quizzed them on information from previous slides:
“Can you name two out of home mediums?” They stared at me blankly.
“Uhh…billboards?” one student offered reluctantly.
My mouth went dry. I was losing them.
I realized only teaching them the basics wasn’t resonating – I had to show them the real-world application. So I shifted gears slightly, breezing over terminology to focus on new media tactics. When I explained how programmatic digitally bids and optimizes in an instant, I noticed a few ears perk up. They became more engaged and curious about different targeting methodologies that buyers and planners can leverage to produce results. We discussed how to use digital retargeting to guide a consumer down a purchase path by comparing instances where we saw ads for items we had recently viewed on the web. In applying their everyday media consumption habits to my field, I was able to find common, relatable ground. While the two students who fell asleep did not wake up, the rest of the room started to respond and engage.
In ruminating on this experience, I’m reminded of the times I lost myself on my journey to this career path. When I graduated and took an internship at an ad agency in New York City, I wanted to be a copywriter. Instead, that agency steered me towards account management, an avenue where I admittedly struggled. A friend who worked in national broadcast media buying encouraged me to apply for an opening at her agency, a move that would set me down the path for a ten-year career and would ultimately lead me to LMO.
After my presentation, two of the students inquired about internship opportunities at LMO. One even said that the presentation “blew [her] mind!” Not only was this is an ego boost, but also reinforced my belief that media is fun and exciting for young people who spend their lives consuming advertising but maybe not thinking about how it can relate to a career. The students of today are very interested in how they will influence the audiences of tomorrow.
Are you also passionate about media? If so, we’re hiring! Head to our careers page to check out our media buyer & planner position.
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