When we envisioned a new home for our agency, we wanted to build a space where our clients and the greater Omaha community could come together in a unique, creative environment to meet and collaborate. This made Ervin & Smith the perfect place for Cathy Solarana, AIGA Nebraska’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, to plan an exciting day for students to learn about careers in the advertising industry.
There’s no doubt that advertising has a long-standing diversity problem. As part of AIGA (the American Institute of Graphic Arts), Solarana wants to answer the question: “What can we do to change that?” The industry can start by introducing students to the field and available career choices at an early age.
Solarana, who began her work as director in November 2016, has a vision to embrace, engage and empower the design community through education, human-centered design, and civic and social engagement. One way AIGA Nebraska has done this is through the summer Creative Mentor Tours. Ervin & Smith was privileged to be among the local agencies selected to participate in the program.
According to Solarana, “The goal of the [Creative Mentor Tours] was to introduce, inspire, and encourage and connect with minority and underserved students who have historically had fewer chances to explore viable career paths in the arts to consider a future career in the creative field.”
And so, on June 27, Ervin & Smith partnered with AIGA Nebraska and Partnership 4 Kids to invite 16 middle school students to dive in to what it’s like to work at an advertising agency. Our day started at Do Space, which was the client that participants would be “researching” for a later activity. Some of the students had been to Do Space before, and some were new to the space. After a quick tour of all the cool things Do Space offers, the students had some time to explore and create with Lego WeDo Robots, 3-D drawing pens and computer-driven bots.After some research, Ervin & Smith team members enjoyed lunch with the middle schoolers and shared our personal experiences working in the industry. We were also able to field questions from the students about our career paths and furthering their education.
We wrapped up a fun afternoon with a project for the students to take their research and knowledge of advertising to create a billboard to get their friends to come to Do Space. Students then shared their work and rationale with the group.
It was a great experience for everyone involved. Students left with a new understanding of what a career in advertising means and we were able to grow as an agency by understanding the needs and experiences of youths in our community and inspire the next generation of creative professionals.