Creative Networking: Marist Advertising Students’ First Annual Portfolio Review

With a vast alumni network, plenty of partnerships, and history of graduate employment to some of the world’s largest companies, Marist is always striving to make sure their students and graduates are prepared for success after graduation. However, when it comes to being prepared for a job, it doesn’t always just come down to grades and a degree. For some Marist students, it is also about impressing industry professionals with their creative thinking and showing off stellar conceptual work. For the students of Professor Joanna D’Avanzo’s Advanced Portfolio Development class, they were able to do all of the above at Marist’s First Annual Portfolio Review Night that took place on Tuesday night, May 3rd.

Hosted by the award-winning Martin Agency in New York City, fourteen students were given the opportunity to put their work in front of eleven talented, notable, and award-winning Creative Directors. These creative directors are the creative leads at advertising and marketing companies, who work with designers, artists, copywriters, sales teams and marketers to create a vision for products and brands.Their own portfolios are filled with campaigns and works for clients including Coca Cola, Levi’s, Trident, HBO, the New York Times, and various others. They also have received some of the highest levels of advertising the range from commercials during the Superbowl, the Effie’s, Cannes Lions, One Show Awards, the Emmy’s, and the Clio’s.

In class Professor D’Avanzo spoke to her students saying, “This is a rare opportunity that some young advertising students and professionals never have the chance to do, so make the most of the time you have with these Creative Directors, and realize the value and importance of their feedback.”


Five seniors ready to start their reviews at the Martin Agency on Fifth Avenue in NYC.

In the weeks leading up to portfolio night, students pulled together their books either digitally or in print, as well as created a cohesive package of creatively crafted resumes and leave behinds. The purpose of this was to be critiqued, gain helpful insight, and leave their mark as a promising creative. All everyone wanted was to be remembered for when a job opens up, and a creative director might see the fit. With some opting for skillful interactive presentations and self-promotional materials, others created handmade books, developed branded frisbees, coasters, and matchbooks so to thank the creative directors for their time and in hopes that they’d be remembered if a job opportunity were to be opened in one their departments.

Students arrived at the Martin Agency on Tuesday on Fifth Avenue to find a fun and collaborated work space that exude creativity, out-of-the box thinking, and collaboration. Students spent the evening rotating around the room and different rooms of the office, spending about ten to fifteen minutes with each creative director. By listening and speaking students were able to gain greater understanding of their work, what is expected in entry-level positions, and how to continue to improve.

Despite the pressure and nervousness leading up to this opportunity, students walked away from the night excited about the industry and their abilities. Brianna Crocco ’17, noted, “Being able to have 11 professionals in my desired field willing to help me and give me advice is something that I am so grateful for. I left the agency feeling accomplished and ready to make some changes to my work in order to reach the next level.”

Senior, Teresa Musumeci said, “I felt like it was a great real life experience to get feedback from people who are currently work in the industry and know the ins and outs. They all had such helpful insights to share and I feel as though I gained a lot of experience in speaking about my work and my ideas.”

Along with my classmates and as Creative Advertising student here at Marist I would have to reiterate how extra-ordinary this experience was for me. As a graduating senior, the job search is hard and filled with countless others looking for the same opportunities; but thanks to Professor D’Avanzo, her network of colleagues and the School of Communication and the Arts’ support, Portfolio Night allowed me to be more confident in my work and this next stage so that I can stand out to future employers. Some criticism was hard to take but the value of what each Creative Director has to say was immeasurable, appreciated, and will only make me a better creative.

In speaking with Professor D’Avanzo at the end of the night, the Creative Directors only had good things to say about the student work and the potential in the room. The night was a foot in the door for the students and have given them the ability to grow their network. Students work and leave behinds will be displayed in Lowell Thomas Communication Office for the next few weeks.

Learn more about Marist’s School of Communication and the Arts here.


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