While students around the country were studying for finals, students from the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communication (HMC) at Florida State University (FSU) were on an eight-hour drive from Tallahassee to Miami to attend this year's AHAA Thinking Under the Influence conference.
Throughout the years, students at the center look forward to participating in this conference, buying new outfits, ordering business cards, and practicing their 30-second elevator pitch. If you had a conversation with an HMC student, you might have met a future leader in this industry. These 'Noles are ready to tackle the field after being trained by the leading university in the field of Hispanic marketing. They are equipped with specialized knowledge, display proactive leadership and hold a close relationship with the industry.
The center serves approximately 400 students each year. Through specialized courses such as Hispanic marketing communication, account planning, multicultural marketing communication and diffusion of innovations, students learn the necessary skills to thrive in this niche. Projects are very hands on and require knowledge to be put in practice. Students actively discuss culture, since focus groups and personal interviews are part of the curriculum. Regardless of ethnicity or ability to speak Spanish, by the end of the semester, students leave understanding more about their own culture and about themselves.
Class discussions become enhanced conversations where graduate instructors, under supervision of professors, learn from their students' personal experiences with U.S. Hispanics. This amplifies the undergraduate students' ability to discover deeper cultural insights and the graduate students' flexibility to work with people from different backgrounds. They also develop exceptional leadership skills since the center is a student-run entity. Students conduct research, promote the center's programs, and coordinate other detail-oriented tasks such as planning the attendance to different conferences throughout the year, including AHAA.
HMC students demonstrate an unwavering passion for the field, moving beyond what might be intimidating for most young professionals. At AHAA conferences, they are not afraid to talk to the big players and interact with the brains behind the case studies read about in class. In addition, real world experience is passed down to them through their paired mentors, who open up their agendas to discuss an array of topics ranging from achieving a work-life balance to succeeding in jobs and internships. The competitive edge gained through the center has helped alumni become an integral part of companies such as Microsoft, Wing, Tapestry, Starcom Mediavest, and many others.
No other university has a connection with AHAA like the Center for HMC. Take it from Aldo Quevedo, next Chairman of AHAA: “Our mission as industry leaders is to help and support raw talent such as with FSU Hispanic Marketing Communication students. They are an example to other universities, and I am sure that with their talent, our industry will be in good hands.”
P.S.: Hopefully, more students will join next year's AHAA conference. Being the future of this industry, students need to learn as much as they can. If AHAA incorporated a dedicated session for students to interact one-on-one with industry leaders, those being introduced to the industry will have a head start into the world of Hispanic marketing.
By Alejandra Guacaneme and Joana Wong