Next Gen Dinner Series Deadline is January 15
January 3, 2018
Next Gen Dinner Series 2017
Designer Maddie Brown knows firsthand the importance of networking in the creative industry. When she landed her UX gig at Nurun in June 2017, immediately after earning her postgraduate certificate in web design from Sheridan College, she knew it wasn’t because of luck, but the relationships she’d built while still in school.
In late 2016, Gillian Chubb, web design program director at Sheridan, informed Brown about the Next Gen Dinner Series, held annually in March. The event, held by AdLounge and its sister company Boost Agents, pairs top graduating students in marketing and advertising with agency and brand leaders for an evening of networking.
Applicants go through a rigorous screening process to whittle down the finalists. In 2017, 72 students attended, including Brown, who sat with Duncan Bruce, president and CEO of Publicis, Nurun’s parent company.
The networking opportunities extend beyond the companies, says Andrea Vacl, content creation strategist at Glance Marketing, which does PR for the Next Gen Dinner Series. “It’s not just the relationship that develops between the sponsor and the student, but the students themselves,” she says. “It’s really cool to see all these people who are college and university students all across Canada connecting with one another.”
This year, there are 71 spots open for students to rub shoulders with sponsors including Isobar, Ruckus, Yellow Pages, IPGMediabrands, Bridgeable and Addictive Mobility. The deadline to apply for the 2018 dinner, which takes place in Toronto, is January 15. Find more info here.
Not sure what to expect? We followed up with Maddie Brown about her experience at the dinner.
Can you describe your experience before the dinner, from application to interview?
When applying, all applicants are obligated to fill out a brief questionnaire and attach their resume and online portfolio link. If you were one of the chosen ones, you then move onto the interview process, where you had the opportunity to meet with a Boost agent. My interview with Dahlia, a former Boost agent, was more like catching up with a friend. She was a delight to get to know and she made you instantly feel comfortable with her cheery disposition. When I was selected as one of the Next Gen Dinner guests, all participants were sent to a one-day training session with Leslie Ehm at Combustion. She taught us the importance of networking, researching potential employers, and how to properly interact with people, to prepare us for the dinner. After that session I’m sure the majority of the room went home and researched their table guest speakers to prep for the big night.
Who did you meet at the dinner and how do you feel those connections have helped you in your career?
I was one of the fortunate few that got to be at the Publicis table with Duncan Bruce. Hearing him speak about the industry and his honesty about his experiences, both past and present, made me quickly realize that this was the kind of person I wanted to work for. After the dinner, I continued to keep in touch with Duncan, simply checking in here and there. When I finally graduated from Sheridan’s web design postgraduate program, I emailed Duncan the next day, attaching my online portfolio and asking for a job. For such a busy and important person, Duncan always got back to me right away, and this time was no exception. He immediately got me connected with Publicis art directors and after a lengthy interview process, I was hired as a UX designer for Publicis Nurun. I always see Duncan in the halls and he never fails to smile and say hi.
What were your main takeaways from the experience?
Pay attention to those speaking and always keep in touch. Never burn a bridge and don’t expect people to be interested in you simply because you were one of the few that got accepted into the program. The Next Gen Dinner Program gives you the tools to work with, but you have to put in the time and effort to make it successful. You only get out as much as you put in.
What advice do you have for students who are thinking of applying on how they should present themselves?
My advice is to go into this program humbly. Don’t be arrogant and attention seeking. Figure out how to speak to people without being annoying or pushy. Remember potential employers know you’re qualified when they see your work. What they are really looking for is whether you’re going to fit in with their company’s culture. Connecting with people is all about finding common ground and sparking up a conversation. Reach out to your guest speakers ahead of time, introduce yourself and have something interesting to say.