Big Dreams in the Big Apple

AD+PR Student Organizes Arts Marketing Opportunities
By: Brandon Crawford

A young women sitting in a chair in front of a black and white background

Alison Rhen is an advertising management senior and professional development chair for WCSMO.

While the stages of performing arts venues have been empty for over a year, a yearning for live events has steadily grown. The Wharton Center Student Marketing Organization, made up of passionate students who market Wharton Center shows to MSU students, has continued to meet throughout the academic year for biweekly professional development. Featuring speakers from across the country on a variety of topics, these events have been organized by Alison Rhen, an advertising management senior and professional development chair for WCSMO.

“I was elected to this position after having two years of experience in the organization,” said Rhen.

In addition to bi-weekly virtual events, Rhen had a larger task of planning a virtual New York City networking retreat. Typically, the New York City spring break retreat is a staple part of the spring semester for WCSMO members. The weeklong retreat consists of networking, hearing from marketing/advertising professionals, enjoying shows, and taking in the city. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, students were discouraged from traveling and spring break was canceled. This did not stop Rhen.

“I began planning about three months before the trip. At first it was daunting and nerve-wracking, as 60% of outreach was cold email to arts marketers. I was stressed to hit ‘send’ because you never know how people are going to respond,” said Rhen.

To her surprise, most people Rhen reached out to were open and excited for the opportunity to speak with WCSMO. The trip was condensed to two afternoons entirely on ZOOM, but still packed with 10 speakers. WCSMO members heard from Spartan alumni, industry professionals and even a Broadway star. Although the trip was different from years past, Rhen says she thinks it was just as exciting and fulfilling.

A screenshot of a Zoom video call session. Multiple students are on the call.

WCSMO members attending an informational meeting with Broadway Star, Derek Klena. Courtesy of WCSMO.

“Having WCSMO members participate in the opportunity to learn from professionals they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to hear from was a highlight for me,” said Rhen. “It was also inspiring to see the members have something to look forward to again.”

Rhen credits networking as a large aspect of the trip’s success. As students progress through college and post-graduate life, networking becomes more and more important for learning and career advice.

“It’s understandable to be nervous reaching out to people you’ve never met, but don’t let that stop you. Research their experiences and see how it relates to you, then, reach out and ask to have an informational interview and learn about their career,” said Rhen.

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences recently launched “ComArtSci Connect,” a networking platform exclusively for Spartans. This platform allows current students to connect with alumni who are eager to assist the next generation of professionals. This platform is different than LinkedIn or other networking platforms because alumni who register with ComArtSci Connect are enthusiastic and ready to help students however they can. Register and activate your account today.