Why Kansas City Advertising Rocks by Kyle Rohde
October 22, 2012
Posted by Stefan Mumaw
For me, it started with AAF-KC Career Day in 2003. During the first semester of my junior year at KU, a professor suggested attending the annual event. Though I’d been interested in the industry since I was 14 and majoring Strategic Communications at KU, I knew little about Kansas City’s part in it. When you’re 21 and in Lawrence, driving 40 miles to Kansas City seemed so far away, plus there were $1 beers to drink on Mass Street…so I never really went to KC until that day.
At Career Day, I began hearing about the day-to-day life of people in the ad biz, the ups, the downs and a few of the gory details. At lunch, I heard Steve Bernstein tell the story of how the Happy Meal was created for longtime client McDonald’s. And towards the end of the day, I made one of the smartest decisions of my life (though I didn’t know it at the time): talking to then-AAF-KC director Rachel Hack, who’s now the mistress of all things Google Fiber here in town.
Rachel invited me to help volunteer with the annual ADDY Awards show and all the preparation involved, which I agreed to. On a cold winter night, I found my way to Bernstein-Rein’s Madison Avenue (yes, Kansas City has one of those too!) office and, a bit apprehensively, joined the group of professionals volunteering their evenings to trim and spray mount hundreds of different pieces for the show’s gallery. I didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t long before I felt welcome, thanks to Chris Evans, Mike LaMonica and Bill Ost in particular. I spent the evening getting to know the group and beginning to feel the sense of community/camaraderie that I know now makes Kansas City such a special place, and left eager to volunteer again soon.
I kept volunteering, and ended up being hired by Rachel to be a club intern the summer/fall of 2004. I wasn’t getting paid, but I knew at least one person at every agency in town. That kind of networking is invaluable, especially as you’re preparing to fight 10,000 other graduates with an identical diploma + resume for the same 100 jobs. Thanks to my internship with AAF-KC, I landed a spring internship with ER Marketing, which then led to a full-time position with the company immediately after graduating, and I’m still there 7 ½ years later.
The thing is, my story’s not unique. So many people in the ad community got their starts in a similar fashion…but here’s the key: they REMEMBER that fact and are friendly, welcoming and ready to help a college kid/recent grad however they can.
People don’t have to be that way. They’ve got spouses, kids, mortgages, etc. to worry about, plus the long hours and stress that comes with this field, regardless of your position. But the people of the Kansas City marketing & advertising community are that way. And that’s why this community rocks. Just ask Meggie Davis of MMGY or Carrie Mills of VML, both of whom started their careers with AAF-KC internships.
Hey Meggie Davis and Carrie Mills... you're up. We dare you to tell us why Kansas City advertising rocks.
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