"Where Are All the Black People, Part 2?", hosted last week at New World Stages in New York, was a resounding success, drawing nearly 400 attendees--job seekers walked away with substantial contacts in the industry, an improved portfolio, and for some, interviews at major agencies.
Those aspiring to work in the industry had direct access to recruiters from over 14 agencies, as well as over 80 portfolio reviewers. (A huge line consistently formed around Jimmy Smith of Amusement Park Entertainment, who generously offered lengthy critiques of portfolios.)
Attendee Stacy Mann, a recent graduate, said she was taking advantage of the event to make contacts and find work.
"Sometimes for every 100 doors you knock on, one opens a crack. That's the great thing about the event, it seems that everyone is trying to help out and better the industry as a whole. The portfolio reviews in particular have been very helpful."
A highlight was the "live talent pitch" where participants had the chance to get onstage and persuade reps of major agencies why they should be their next creative hire with a 3 minute "elevator pitch." Winners were rewarded for their bravery with interviews at the agencies present.
Rajiv Lahens, a recent graduate and aspiring art director, commented on the importance of the event in terms of diversifying the industry.
"Advertising needs to be more inclusive of all multicultural people--Latino, Asian, black, people from all backgrounds. This benefits the industry and will lead to better, more real advertising."
Keynote speakers Jimmy Smith, Jeff Goodby, and Neal Arthur offered insights on breaking into the field, while advertising pioneer Roy Eaton talked candidly about being one of the few black copywriters in advertising when he started out.
The enthusiasm and level of engagement between students and industry insiders was impressive, and judging from feedback, the event has had some real results.