INTERVIEW: An Interview With Trina Boos
Posted by Fred Yang on February 11th, 2012
Ad Lounge‘s Dinner Series application process just came to a close and yet another great event (Conversuasion) is also coming close. Along with all this Ad Lounge action, we were able to ask the founder, Trina Boos, some questions that could shed some light and/or reinforce some of the important aspects of your careers.
1. What motivated you towards creating Ad Lounge and helping the student community?
Ad Lounge was created eleven years ago when I was a student. I had a desire to bring people together. It was created because we were always told throughout school, “It’s who you know. Get out there and meet people if you want to break into the ad industry.” But I felt that we barely knew the students of our current year! So Ad Lounge was initially created to bring Sheridan ad students together. But something strange happened; Interest spread, and the membership rapidly expanded across (and beyond) the entire GTA. We were attracting students in the marketing, design, communications and advertising fields across Ontario. Once industry executives got wind of Ad Lounge, they too began to join. Ad Lounge became a place for executives to offer mentorship and advice to juniors… and for juniors to connect with industry execs. Keep in mind, this was eleven years ago. Ad Lounge currently boasts a member base of over 5,000 – many of which are now executives themselves.
Some of the interesting things we’ve done in the past include:
Art from the Unexpected – A challenge for CEO’s and VP’s to create art and pitch their concepts to 300 of their peers
Conversuasion – A storytelling event where three leaders in our industry are invited on stage for 20 minutes each to talk about whatever they choose
Next Gen Dinner Series – A competition for top students where we invite the winning candidates to break bread with industry leaders.
2. If there was one single element that today’s marketing/marketing communications students lack – and is crucial to their future careers – what would it be?
I also run a recruitment firm, Boost Agents, so I have firsthand knowledge of what sort of behaviour we’re seeing from juniors right now. And to be quite honest, one of the most common things I see across almost every junior out there is really, really poor follow-through. Sure, it absolutely matters how you educate yourself by reading interesting books on marketing, design and communications. It matters that you’ve been spending your time volunteering in the marketing department at the local film festival. It matters that you have a twitter account and that you use it actively to showcase your passion for what it is that you do. It matters that you have the smartest, slickest portfolio in your class. But, if you fall short on follow up with a potential employer, then you’ve just killed your chance to get them on your side.
An example: I met someone at an event. We had an engaging conversation and I was impressed by their academic achievements. I gave them my card, and they said they’d email me. Three weeks went by and they didn’t email. I found out later that they “got busy doing a school project”, or got “tied up with a personal problem” or something like that. Little did they know, however, how greatly they impressed me during that initial meeting. So much so that I was considering offering them a summer internship. As soon as Day 1 passed after the initial meeting, with no follow-up it became clear to me that they weren’t the high calibre candidate that I needed on my team. Someone else who impressed me equally as much followed up first thing that morning. And of course, they were awarded the opportunity.
Sure, you might be talented. But don’t forget about the basics. Follow-through and professionalism will get you very, very far in this industry. I promise you.
3. Everyone tells students to “stand out”, in your opinion, what’s the best way to do this without looking like a “kiss-ass” or creepy?
Creepy is calling a VP, Account Services five times a day. Creepy is attempting to add a Creative Director to Facebook, despite them not responding to any of your fifteen attempts to reach out to them so that you can check out their family photos and get some insider info. But do you know what? I very seldom have come across creepiness with juniors. As I mentioned above, the thing I’ve noticed the most among juniors is the absolute lack of follow-up and follow-through. So it’s not common to see the above happen.
As for kissing ass – I have to say, it works sometimes – if done with absolute class and integrity. I think back on the time I spoke at an industry event. I was going to be on stage for an hour. A young student came to me and said, “I’m going to get a water. Can I get you anything?” This may have been “ass kissing”, but I have to say – I loved it. He showed that he was both motivated to impress, considerate, and was a bit fearless while the bulk of the other students didn’t even think to introduce themselves to me. So if you’re concerned about kissing ass, I actually encourage it – if you keep it honest.
4. The digital landscape in advertising – how important is it for students to include it into their skill set?
It’s part of everything we do now in this industry. If you don’t demonstrate an understanding or interest in digital media, someone else will and you’ll find that you might be left behind to others who are keeping up with where things are going today. I met a junior last year who didn’t want to be on Facebook, Linkedin or twitter because she was concerned about privacy. I had to advise her that if she’s not familiar with these platforms, then how is she going to be a valuable strategic advisor to her clients and to her team? She’s since changed her tune and is now employed at one of the top shops in the city.
5. What’s an attribute students should endlessly practice at to “make it” in the business? How did you do it?
Find what you’re passionate about. What makes you tick? Focus on it. Become awesome at it. Treat it as your craft. Some focus on mobile marketing, and others on social media. Some realize that they’re exceptional executors but aren’t good strategists. Some realize they want to lead. Others realize they want to be part of a team. Take the direction that’s good for you. What’s good for you won’t be good for the person beside you. Work to your strengths, and try to find an employer that allows you to do this. And always, always be on the hunt to do great things. This industry tends to leave people behind if they don’t do great work. So hone in on what you do best and do it really, really well.