“Good morning students. Today it is what you do when no one tells you what to do, that shows the world who you are. By getting on the bus this morning at 7:00 AM, you are already a step ahead of everybody else,” exclaimed Professor Joseph Glennon, Department Chair of Advertising and Public Relations, as the bus pulled away from Annenberg Hall at 7:16 AM on Friday, October 7. In an entire day spent in New York City, 40 African American Temple students attended Where Are All the Black People?, a diversity conference and career fair. Several professors and Dean David Boardman of Klein College of Media and Communication attended as well and encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunities at the conference.
At the event, dozens of marketing companies, and advertising agencies and brands such as Vans, Best Buy, Martin Agency, and Mother Agency were there recruiting students for full-time jobs and internships. They shared opportunities for content creators to take on creative briefs for mediums such as TikTok and Instagram, to utilize Gen-Z platforms to engage brands with their audiences. Throughout the scheduled program, students attended workshops, panels, breakout sessions and even had the opportunity to get their headshots taken and portfolios reviewed by industry professionals. Students left the event on their way back to Philadelphia feeling great after shooting their shot at some of the world’s biggest companies and agencies. The experience was a career first for many students. Lolade Kola-Adewuyi, advertising major, said, “I am most excited about getting more familiar with what I hope to do in the future and fill in the gaps between college and my aspiring career.” Laila Manigo, also an adverting major, agreed. She was also excited about discovering the avenues that are perfect for her future career.
The event began with an electric performance from the legendary Doug E. Fresh as he told his story and emphasized the importance of diversity in markets across industries. He concluded with his notable “human beatbox” performance, energizing the crowd with his hit song “La Di Da Di.” One point that strongly resonated with students was his final thought that necessity is the mother of invention. He told the story of one day walking into his band class during elementary school, and suddenly finding out the program was cut unexpectedly. In finding this out, Doug E. Fresh discovered that he acquired a need for music, and he was left with no other choice than to find the music with the resources that he had at his disposal. Beatboxing soon turned into a career for him in which he created his own path, which conventionally wasn’t afforded to him as a Black man in the projects of New York City. After the performance, Doug E. Fresh encouraged participants to put themselves on the line and take the chance that may change their life.
One panel many enjoyed was, “Have You Checked Your 2020 Initiative” which consisted of Kai Deveraux Lawson (Dentsu Creative), Nate Nichols (Palette Group), and others. During this panel, the panelists discussed the rise inattention toward the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd and the reactive diversity efforts that companies began to take on. However, the issue at hand was whether these companies have currently lived up to their commitments of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Unfortunately, all the panelists were left with utter disappointment, and many of the large companies that made commitments back in 2020 have not kept them. Panelist Nate Nichols brought up the lack of diverse representation in the “c-suite” which is the department in which CEOs, CFOs and other chief operating officers reside. Many said it was compelling to hear the actual statistical numbers regarding the lack of African American representation in marketing industries.
Halfway through the event, students from Temple felt rewarded and were excited to meet new people. Students felt proud to be in a Black space where they were valued and given life changing knowledge and opportunities. Cyleigh Russell-Grace, advertising major, shared her personal experience from interacting with another attendee. She said that “it was a great privilege to meet someone who worked in the same agency as me and we had an opportunity to discuss our previous experiences while also planning ways to continue to work together.” As the event concluded, students felt optimistic and learned a lot. Most of the students in attendance hope to come back the following year and continue to expand their network, while gaining knowledge and confidence as they plan their future careers.