One of the most fun things about UIndy’s student run firm is the constant rotation of new faces- with every student that falls in love with TDC and takes the applied class time and time again, there is a terrified new student who has no idea what they’re getting themselves into. This freaked out newbie was me last semester. However, now I’m 10 months older, 1.5 semesters smarter and leagues more confident than I was back in January. Here’s advice on making your first semester at Top Dog Communication rock, from someone who knows.
- Don’t think of TDC as a class, but instead as an extracurricular. Even though COMM 140 is on your transcript as a class, it doesn’t function like one. In my experience, treating my tactics as homework just makes it boring (and frustrating)! Instead, I like to think of Monday night class as a club, because “meetings” are at the same time I had extracurriculars in high school. Working on my tactics isn’t homework, it’s “practice.”
- TDC is a team sport. And while we’re talking about Top Dog Communication like it’s an extracurricular, I should mention that it’s definitely a team activity. No one would get anything done in TDC alone. The campaigns we’re left with at the end of the semester are the rest of hundreds of collective hours from everyone. This means that it will be obvious if you don’t pull your weight in the group. But it also means that as a beginner, you have tons of smart and experienced people at your fingertips.
- Ask for help. Utilize those people!! It can be terrifying to ask questions, but that is how everyone learns. Beginning account associates who ask questions are the associates whose executives notice them, the ones who get mentored by cool more experienced students and the ones who get a lot better at making tactics over the semester.
- Brainstorm. Crazy idea: think about what a tactic will look like before you even create the InDesign document. Sketch, draft, repeat. Even better, talk to your friends and other students on your account to make sure your brochure is the best looking, most on-message material to ever grace the firm director’s desk.
- Get an idea book. Brainstorming is boring, stressful and messy for people with nowhere to do it. This semester I started carrying around a little empty journal so I could stop worrying about my ideas ruining my planner’s tidy aesthetic, and it seriously has been a game changer. This seemingly small thing has totally kickstarted my creativity, helped me stay better organized, and most importantly, contributed to me producing better-written, more uniquely designed work.
- “Stay hungry. Most people agree that Steve Jobs was a pretty smart guy (or at least a lot smarter than a semi-qualified sophomore), so I borrow my last two points from him. Throughout his life, Mr. Jobs was constantly hungry for knowledge, innovation, success. He never settled, and neither can TDC students. Before I turn in a tactic, I ask myself, “Will I be proud of this still in six months?” Sometimes the answer is no, and in that case I keep working.
- “Stay foolish.” However, even the most accomplished people and the most seasoned TDC students still mess up sometimes. It can be embarrassing to make mistakes, but it happens to everyone (even Steve Jobs). Mistakes keep us humble. Mistakes keep us learning. Get ready to make a lot of them.