My high schooler is interested in a career in advertising. What are some extracurriculars she could do to develop relevant skills?


Maryann Aita, Writer, editor, and 4-year speech and debate competitor

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This is a great question because I think it's always important for high school students to learn about the types of skills that a career requires. In general, it's best to have variety of extracurricular activities to show colleges that your daughter is well-rounded and to expose her to a range of skills and interests. For adverstising, specifically, both theater and speech and debate would be great extracurriculars to try, as others have said, but I'd also suggest some activities that involve publications.

A school newspaper or yearbook committee can be a great way to experience working under deadlines, making pitches, and working with superiors (editors) to make a final product. She could also get the other side of the advertising world by seeing what kind of ads get placed in the paper. If she enjoyed this and stuck with it, she could work her way up to being an editor so she can get a feel for managing people and working with her team to make something coherent. Often, students on yearbook or the newspaper will communicate with the student body or conduct interviews, which are also great ways to practice public speaking skills and to develop professional writing skills (valuable in any profession).

Another option, depending on how outgoing your daughter is, would be to contact an advertising or marketing firm where you live and see if they'd let your daughter shadow an employee or come in to speak with someone about what she can expect. I made my own internship at my County Attorney's office in high school and it really helped me learn what my own strengths were and to get a feel for the professional world.

Although not an extracurricular activity, I'd encourage your daughter to take any business, marketing, or psychology classes she can as these are all useful in advertising. Even a class in photography and visual art could be beneficial when considering how information is presented.

Because advertising requires a broad set of skills, many activities will be useful, but I hope the ideas listed here will get her on the right track.

Carrie Hagen, Nonfiction Writer and Researcher, Teacher

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I would definitely encourage theater and/or debate depending upon how much time your daughter has. Is she shy? If so, theater would encourage her to take risks and to consider how to present material. Does she work well on a team or need more collaborative experiences? Debate would also require her to prepare information, and then think quickly to reframe her arguments, defend her research, and articulate her thoughts for the benefit of a larger group.

Advertising will call upon your daughter's authentic voice within a "team-centric" environment. I've had numerous students participate in both of these groups, and within their experiences, most have found good friends and stronger voices for themselves.

Lisa Friedman, Inclusive Educator, Religious School Director, teacher, writer & parent

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Hi there. Advertising requires some broad skills that any high school club or activity might help to cultivate. For example, an ad campaign is typically generated by a team, so knowing how to work well with others is critical. Team sports could certainly help her to develop this skill. Advertising also requires strong communication, public speaking and interpersonal skills. I would think that debate, theater or other public speaking clubs would be valuable, as would any activity that gives her the opportunity to collaborate and build relationships with others.

In general, encouraging your daughter to pursue and participate in those things that she loves most will help her to develop a wide range of skills while ensuring that she holds to the commitments that she makes. Passion and commitment are traits that are recognized and valued by both colleges and future employers, and both seek out individuals who are well-rounded with a broad array of talents and interests.

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