How many of us marketers in the AEC industry sailed through four years of college without any idea of where we would land when we got out? How many more didn’t know what “AEC” meant, had no knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite, and scarcely made any effort to grow our professional networks until our University classrooms were hardly visible in our rearview mirrors?
Marketing students at the University of Central Florida are encouraged to proactively overcome these hurdles through their early participation in the SMPS Central Florida Student Chapter. With more than 50 students engaged in the program, the student chapter constantly provides opportunities for future marketers to learn about the AEC industry, develop technical skills, grow their professional networks, and engage in community-focused activities, all while defining their own path for transitioning from college to career. Fun fact – the SMPS Central Florida Student Chapter scholarship fund stands as our chapter’s designated non-profit donation recipient, and proceeds raised through various SMPS events, including the annual AEC Art Gala, are allotted to the scholarship fund for the direct benefit of students.
Students engaged in SMPS learn about the AEC industry by attending public speaking events organized by the Student Chapter committee. Topics for these events include resume development, interview preparation, and insight on navigating a path to initiate a career in AEC. Previous speakers for these informative sessions include marketing professionals representing committees of SMPS Central Florida, as well as other local industry professionals. Each speech leaves students with relevant knowledge to enable professional development and information on real-world experiences they will encounter in their future AEC careers.
I got through four years of college without taking a single course on the Adobe Creative Suite, and I applied for my first job without even a basic understanding of InDesign (what was I thinking?). Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity to learn and quickly advanced by skill set. SMPS Student Chapter members are advised to develop these crucial marketing skills during their schooling, and have the opportunity to participate in three workshops over the course of a semester. In these classes, students are introduced to Adobe programs that will allow them a competitive advantage in the job market.
Even for an experienced marketing professional, networking can be an intimidating element of career growth. By bringing AEC industry professionals directly to students for the previously described public speaking events and workshops, students engaged in SMPS have the opportunity for face time with industry professionals representing a diverse array of companies in AEC. Students are also encouraged to attend other SMPS events, such as Marketing Mechanics lunch and learns and panels hosted by the Programs committee. Four free registrations for each of these events are provided to members of the student chapter, so that participants have ample opportunities to engage and network with professional marketers. In addition, the student chapter organizes philanthropic events to network with one another while volunteering their time for the benefit of local organizations like Feeding Children Everywhere.
For students engaged in the SMPS Central Florida Student Chapter, the action steps necessary to break into a marketing career in AEC are not a mystery to solve after graduation, but a clearly defined path on their radar from the beginning of the college experience. While providing resources for these students to develop their industry knowledge, technical skills, and networking abilities, the SMPS Student Chapter committee is working to advance the growth of a new generation of professional marketers. As experienced professionals, we can all contribute to this development by volunteering to be a guest presenter at one of the chapter’s public speaking events, and by dedicating our full support to programs like the AEC Art Gala, the proceeds of which are donated directly to the Student Chapter scholarship fund. The SMPS Student Chapter is a great way for us marketing professionals to connect with a future generation of AEC marketers, and share crucial college to career guidance to kick start their careers.
Marketing Coordinator, PCL Construction