One of the major advantages membership in the Chicago AMA offers is the opportunity to meet, connect with and learn from people of all levels of experience who work in many different disciplines. This benefit is particularly important for those who are just starting out in the business and have yet to build a significant professional network. (It’s also vital for the rest of us since this networking is always a major element of professional success whatever your job title or level of experience.)
Recognizing this need on the part of young professionals, the Chicago AMA created the Up and Comers program. Up and Comers focuses on breaking down the barriers to learning and opening up discussion between recent and future members of the organization. On Wednesday, November 4, led by Michael Long, Chicago AMA CEO and Michelle Batten, President-elect, the Up and Comers met at an event hosted by Tom Jacobs, Chicago AMA President for a discussion on “Inflection Points That Shape Your Career.” According to Michelle, “Our goal was to hear directly from young marketers about what they need to personally learn, grow and thrive in Chicago.”
The evening began with a conversation between Michelle and Dean Petrulakis, Senior Vice President, Business Development at Rider Dickerson on a topic of great interest to many seniors and recent grads – how do you get your first job.
Dean’s tale of how his determination, imagination and positive attitude led to his overcoming considerable competition to land his first position could have been the plot for a. Later, these same qualities coupled with a talent for networking, helped him climb the ladder of success to his current role.
When asked to summarize his advice to fellow Chicago AMA members who are just starting out, Dean offered, “First, recognize that you can’t rise to the top without putting in the effort to get there. There are no shortcuts. If you get a shot at a job, don’t be afraid to make it your own shot. Go out there and grab it and then be willing to put in the work it takes to achieve a high level of success. It’s really up to you.”
The dialogue between Michelle and Dean quickly became a group discussion with other senior level members sharing their own experiences inspired by the questions and comments of the younger members of the group.
During the second half of the session, the group broke up into three teams charged with coming up with some practical suggestions on how our organization can attract and engage more young professionals. And according to Michelle, “these interactions led us to identify additional areas where we can continue the conversation and ignite the next generation of marketers within our community.” Over the next year, the Up and Comers community will invest in the mentorship and apprenticeship experiences, strategic skill building events and Collegiate and Higher Education partnerships that Chicago AMA members need in order to take their careers to the next level.
Shortly after the event, one of the attendees, Elina Yufa, President of the AMA – Lake Forest College Collegiate Chapter, was asked to share her view of the evening. Below is what she had to say:
Chicago AMA: What did you hope to get out of the event before you attended?
Elina: I’ve been in close contact with the president-elect for a long time now and she personally invited me to the event. It sounded like a great learning experience, not to mention a unique opportunity to get an “inside-look” of the Jacobs Agency and make some career connections to broaden my network.
Chicago AMA: What did you learn?
Elina: I learned that every chapter of AMA is struggling with the same issues. Member retention is a challenge and target audiences make a big difference. Professors are a gap that we should tap into more aggressively and we brainstormed some great ideas for this, which I can apply to my chapter as well.
Chicago AMA: How do you feel this benefited you – or not?
Elina: I believe this was invaluable to me because I built upon existing relationships and gained new ones. I felt like I had a voice and that was really gratifying. I’m always looking to learn and this was just another opportunity to do so.
Chicago AMA: Would you recommend the Up and Comers to others and if so, why?
Elina: I definitely would recommend the Up & Comers, and have! This group offers something unique – a place where young ambitious professionals have a voice. It also provides them with a lot of exposure and inspiration, with like-minded peers and worthy mentors.
For more information on the Up and Comers, click here.
Wendy Lalli consults on marketing projects through her own agency, Wendy Lalli Ltd. and is CD of Crux Creative, a marketing agency in Wisconsin. She also mentors other marketing professionals in transition and wrote on job search for the Chicago Tribune and 25 newspapers in the Chicago Sun Times network.