When Jewell Donaldson was an advertising and copywriting major at Columbia College Chicago, she actively embraced a variety of opportunities and fully participated in events, workshops, and her classes. I remember meeting with her in the Career Center and being struck by her infectious personality and radiant smile.
Never a spectator, Jewell’s ambition and drive led her to some pretty amazing experiences, including her full-time employment at Leo Burnett, where she has been a wordsmith and inspiration to other women in advertising for the last two and a half years.
We asked Jewell a few questions about her time at Columbia and for advice for current students:
Did an internship or on-campus job help prepare you for your first job after graduation?
It certainly did! My internship with the Marcus Graham Project created connections that I’m still nurturing and fostering to this day. Without that first internship, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the reality of advertising and my role as a copywriter. It fortified my desire to be an adwoman.
How did you find your position at your agency/employer?
Those connections I mentioned? Yea, that’s how. At the behest of my mentors at the Marcus Graham Project, I competed in the “Live Talent Pitch” portion of The One Club’s annual HAATBP (Here Are All The Black People) event. I won. Being on that stage garnered attention from Leo Burnett Executive Creative Directors and Recruiters. I was sent an acceptance letter for their 2015 Internship without applying. I kicked ass as an intern and eventually flipped that into a full-time position.
What do you love about your job?
I am rewarded for my curiosity in the world. I create business solutions with creativity. I influence culture. I can see someone wearing a t-shirt from a campaign I created and I know… that I was successful.
I love that I can use the platform of a brand to elevate causes, issues, people, and communities that can benefit from local, national, or worldwide attention. Oh, and the open bars. Those are awesome.
What advice do you have for senior students?
Attend everything. Apply to everything. My one regret is that I didn’t intern more. When they tell you “the industry is small,” they’re not lying. Jobs are gained on connections and good impressions. Go to your damn classes. Drain your professors of their knowledge (bonus thing: they are also connections). Be curious and I mean “cat killer” curious. And enjoy all those semester breaks, because that ain’t real life.