The Elon senior was one of 50 students nationwide selected to participate in the American Advertising Federation’s virtual program. For four days in late January, the nation’s top multicultural college seniors will work, network and build their personal brand with the help from advertising, marketing and media professionals.
After a semester full of challenges, Amanda Willingham ’21 ended the fall on a high note: selected as one of 50 students for the American Advertising Federation’s Most Promising Multicultural Students program, the advertising industry’s premier multicultural recruiting initiative.
The program, to be held virtually in late January, connects the advertising industry with the nation’s top multicultural college seniors for four days of networking, personal brand coaching, and live stream sessions. Willingham, a strategic communications major, said she has participated in programs similar to AAF’s, and has had this program on her radar for a while – which she credits to Lecturer Hal Vincent, faculty director of Live Oak Communications and her academic adviser, as well as the Unity in Communications program.
Approaching its 25th year, the Most Promising Multicultural Student program is part of the AAF Mosaic Center’s initiative to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the industry. Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are something Willingham said she is quite passionate about.
“Historically, in the industry overall, there’s not a lot of ethnic minorities,” Willingham said. “This program is very cool because it gives a great opportunity to 50 students throughout the country studying advertising. It gives them access to really cool companies, and boosting them into the industry and giving them the ability to have that opportunity to really jump in, with the overall goal of increasing the number of minorities in advertising.”
Many leading agencies and companies, including 72andSunny, Apple, FCB, Google, IPG, McCann, Omnicom Group, Publicis Groupe, The Trade Group and Wieden+Kennedy, consider the Most Promising Multicultural Students program a valuable resource in recruiting entry-level talent.
Each year, multicultural students from the AAF’s 160-plus college chapters apply to the program. This year’s applicant pool exceeded the number of submissions over the previous years and included students from the AAF’s newly established college chapter initiative – HBCUs for Advertising.
Students are then vetted and selected using a rigorous application process that includes essays questions, letters of recommendation, résumé/portfolio reviews and academic requirements.
This year’s class has an average GPA of 3.7 and represents 25 schools and 19 states across the country, including California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, New York and Texas.
To learn more about AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Students program, visit the initiative’s website.