Most Promising Minority Student

By Alexandra Kukulka

After graduating college, young adults stress looking for the dream job they worked so hard for in school. Having been selected as one of America’s Most Promising Minority Students by the American Advertising Federation, senior marketing communication major Derrick Milton will be able to breathe easier when taking the next steps in his career.

As one of 50 students chosen by the AAF, Milton will fly to New York City for a three-day recruiting event and sit down with professionals in the field to learn more about the companies and what they expect from recent graduates.

The Chronicle sat down with Milton to talk about being named one of the Most Promising Minority Students, his trip to NYC and his post-graduation plans.

The Chronicle: How does it feel to be named one of the Most Promising Minority Students?

Derrick Milton: It feels good to be recognized. For the American Advertising Federation to say, “Derrick Milton, you deserve to get an award for your work,” is something outstanding. Sometimes it is overwhelming that everyone is saying congratulations, and I can’t stop saying thank you enough. I would say it is exciting and a bit overwhelming because I didn’t know it was going to get this much attention. I got a lot a press for this, and I did not know it would go that far. So I am excited, extremely excited.

The Chronicle: What will you do in New York City?

DM: I leave February. It is basically like a three-day recruiting event, and you get to meet the top agencies in the advertising and marketing industry, and basically they get first dibs on you. They get to pick out of the litter, saying, “OK, what do you do? What do you do? What do you do?” It is only 50 of us, so it is going to be real personal with interviews on the spot. Companies [that will be present] at the recruiting have called me, and I have a couple interviews lined up. It is good to go from looking for a job to the job looking for you. The most exciting part is the small portfolio class on what the top agencies would like to see.

The Chronicle: How did you feel when marketing communication faculty member Peg Murphy first approached you about the award?

DM: We were in class and she said, “Hey, talk to me after class.” So I’m thinking, maybe I got a bad grade on my paper and she wanted to discuss it because she said it so sternly. After class, I go to see what is going on, and she said, “Oh, I have something for you. Follow me.” We go to the Marketing Communication Department and she gives me this flyer that says, “The Most Promising Minority Student.” She was telling me to fill it out, she would write me a letter and she thought I met the requirements. So basically, you write an essay in 250 words about who you are and where you come from. Peg wrote me a nomination letter, and then I mailed it off. I later got an email saying congratulations. I forward[ed] the email to Peg, and she called me and she was so excited.  I was like, “OK, why are you so excited? Because I am not that excited.” She said, “No, you don’t know what this means. They are going to fly you to New York.” I thought I was signing up for something my professor just told me to do. I didn’t actually know how great it was.

The Chronicle: Why did you choose to go into marketing communication?

DM: I started out as a club promoter. That is my side job, so I do a lot of marketing and event promotions for the Green Dolphin Street nightclub on Ashland and Webster. I work for the Rails Marketing group. Basically, I just handle all of their marketing events. I come up with ideas for their promotions. I hit the streets with flyers and get text message numbers. I have always had interest in [marketing]. When I found out that Columbia offered marketing communications with advertising and I could minor in management, it was perfect for me. So I just stuck with it and stayed here.

The Chronicle: What experience do you have in the field so far?

DM: I am doing the promotions for Green Dolphin. I have a lot of experience with event promotion and event planning. I don’t do graphic design, but I do sit down with the graphic design artist to tell him what I want the flyer to look like. I have interned at Clear Channel, and I was a promotion intern. That showed me how I could really go bigger and better than just a club promoter. With the help of Clear Channel’s internship, which I did for two semesters, it showed me that I could go further with this.

The Chronicle: What are your plans for after graduation?

DM: After graduation, I want a job that is in my field. I went to school for four-and-a-half years for marketing. I want a marketing job. I don’t want to be a substitute teacher or something just to get by. My goal is to start in an entry-level position in the marketing or advertising field. Hopefully, it will come from New York or go back to Clear Channel, which is fine with me.