Advertising Sophomore Kristen McNeal

Kristen McNealMy IE Pre-Grad Internship in advertising with Glynnis Johnson taught me more than I had expected to learn. I enjoyed gaining insight about the college academic environment, from the perspective of graduate students, deans and faculty members. I learned about graduate professionalism in the workplace, the complexities of research projects and the interdisciplinary issues that cross between communication, marketing and advertising. Overall, this experience proved to be valuable; the internship has demystified the graduate school process and even opened my eyes to other areas of academic interest.

As a first-year sophomore, I am ahead academically by completing most of the basic courses and, like many other university students, am trying to graduate on-time-maybe, even early. Therefore, there is a sense of urgency: I want to make sure advertising is right for me and if it's an area that would complement my individual interests and career goals, both now and potentially in graduate school.

After learning about the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program, I realized the features of this program matched everything that I wanted to learn about advertising. Questions included ones like: Is this program right for me? How is graduate school different from the undergraduate system? What are some of the reasons people come to this school for advertising or other communication degrees? What are the advantages of this graduate degree? And so, utilizing this opportunity proved to give insight and answers to all of these questions. This program-one that is exclusive and unique to the University of Texas at Austin, and UT only-has encouraged me to inform others so they can get involved, too.

The most memorable part of the internship experience came from my trip to San Francisco, California. I was fortunate enough to receive a travel grant and attend the 50th Anniversary of the annual American Academy of Advertising Conference (AAA). Traveling with my mentor, we spent four days in California listening to presentations, networking with AAA members and touring the beautiful west coast. The conference represented an extra unique, exciting opportunity because the conference president was no other than UT's own-Dr. Jef Richards, an advertising professor/faculty member. In addition, many of the presenters came from UT's graduate advertising, communications and business programs.

While at the conference, I learned so much about the diversity of advertising. It is a multifaceted field and is becoming even more complex with the new forms of technology; consequently, this was the subject for many presentations and symbolizes an area that will be even more important in the future.

Given the chance to attend a national conference, I now understand the connected networking value of such events. One example: I shook hands with the famous Mr. O' Guinn, the author of my advertising textbook, and received his contact information (anyone who took Dr. Murphy's 318J class knows who I'm talking about). Another example: I talked to many deans and faculty members from around the country. One academic offered information about potential research opportunities at her school, Duke University, and good advice about gradate school in general.

The IE program has had other career impacts, besides learning information about graduate school. In interviews for summer internships, my reflections over the IE experience have impressed the interviewers! Beyond that, they are not only impressed but intrigued over my 'academic maturity' and the innovation of Dr. Richard Cherwitz's vision, featured only at the University of Texas.

My mentor has been one of the best parts of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program. Glynnis has been a source of constant knowledge, assistance and guidance through this journey of academic exploration, in the subject of advertising. She has helped me fill out thousands of different applications (academic and scholarship related), answered all my questions and shared her own advertising opportunities with me.

Going through this process, I see graduate school as a more viable option and am definitely encouraged to continue studying advertising. I can see myself, one day, working with all of the academic professionals I met and know-for sure-advertising and communication is an area for me.