Story by James Jolly
Photo Courtesy Dorothy Pisarski
The conference, known for its workshops and keynote speakers, attracted many students this year.
Most students who attended the event study advertising, mass communication, marketing and graphic design and came from Drake, DMACC, Grand View University, Simpson College and Iowa State University.
Around 12 Drake students attended the Nov. 8 competition.
During the one-day event, activities included tours of ad agencies, Q&A sessions, portfolio reviews and a student campaign project.
The campaign project, a competitive event, was especially interesting to three students.
Tina Stanley, Katilyn Gehringer and Jack Jaques, all students in Drake’s SJMC, competed in a group and managed to beat out all other teams and take home the win.
“Our team was excited to hear we had won the competition,” Gehringer said. “There were several great campaigns that were presented to the professional panel of judges. It was very exciting to be the winning team.”
The event itself asked groups of students to create a continuation of the Cultivate Iowa campaign, provided by The Iowa Food Systems Council.
Students were given 30 minutes to finish a product.
”The time period was an extremely short amount of time to produce brilliance,” Stanley said.
Despite the short time frame, the team managed to complete its project first.
“Being in the advertising industry, our team understood the importance of deadlines, so we made sure to be the first team back in the presenting room,” Stanley said.
The time element was only part of the competition.
Groups were randomly selected from Iowa State and Drake, and they had to work together efficiently to produce a suitable campaign continuation.
“Our team worked well together. … Everyone contributed several ideas and worked well to get things done in a timely manner,” Gehringer said. “(We) had to think on our toes to figure out what ideas would fit best together.”
The professional judge panel said students effectively used research to make smart decisions and exceeded requirements.
Stanley was unaware of the competitive element.
“I wasn’t even aware that there was a competitive component to the event until I showed up,” Stannley said. “It actually made me very nervous.”
Despite the brief surprise, Stanley helped her group organize its presentation.
“I pieced a lot of our ideas together and I wrote them on our final presentation paper,” Stanley said.
The reward was well-worth the competitive aspect, though.
“It was a little overwhelming, but the time crunch made (the competition) so much more thrilling and the win so much more rewarding,” said Stanley.
GRiT wasn’t all competitions and workshops for the attending students.
It was also an important networking tool and an opportunity to connect with Des Moines’ professional advertising community.
“I met over 20 students from Iowa State pursuing a career in the advertising industry. It was a great networking opportunity. … I really enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with my peers and connect with professionals,” Stanley said.
Gehringer said she wanted to attend this year because she will graduate in May and wanted more exposure to the advertising industry in Des Moines.