For the past nine to ten years I have made a journey to Mark Johnson’s Advanced Photojournalism class at the Grady School of Journalism on the campus of the University of Georgia. Each time I present on the topic of how to make a living as a photographer.
This last visit three of Mark’s former students that I work with on my Chick-fil-A account came to the class as well. They had all been in the class when I spoke in the past.
Earlier in the morning Brenna Chambliss and I were doing a video shoot in town with a Chick-fil-A operator. She was my client and directing the project. Just a few years ago she was one of Mark’s students.
After we finished that morning Brenna took me around campus for a tour. I got to ring the bell on campus. I had never done that before. That was a cool experience.
Brenna told me that she learned more about life lessons from Mark Johnson than from any other classes at UGA. He was the person that helped her understand that it is all about relationships.
The program has grown in the past few years. They now have 80 students taking the introductory photojournalism class and in his advanced class has 20 students where in the past that was limited to 16.
My presentation you can download from the link above.
The best part about having Jackie, Brenna and Mercedes is that they were the evidence that there are jobs in the industry for the students.
During the class and afterwards the students asked a lot of questions and took time to talk with all of us that came.
Mark got a lot of hugs from Jackie, Brenna and Mercedes. Now that they have been working for a few years they knew even more how much Mark prepared them for the jobs they have today.
During the presentation I realized I could just ask the three who were with me some of the points I wanted to make. I asked Jackie when she meets with a client what does she talk to them about for a project. She wasn’t expecting this and we hadn’t rehearsed, but she listed how she would ask questions about why they needed something. She would then talk to them in a way that all the ideas were addressing that need. She also gives them options.
I then put up the PowerPoint slide and it said exactly what I had prepared. The reason I knew Jackie would know what to say is professional communicators who do a great job start with asking those questions of clients to help the client meet those objectives that sometimes they haven’t thought about.
For more than nine years I have gone to the class met people and then helped some of them find jobs with Chick-fil-A or even steered them to other employers. I have helped some of them with internships in the summer with WinShape Camps that is non-profit run by the family that owns Chick-fil-A.
When I was first asked if it was OK if the three ladies came along they were thinking more about how wonderful it would be to visit and see Mark Johnson. How could they justify going up to the class away from their jobs was their question. I suggested they make it a recruiting trip.
Ken Willis their agencies boss understood exactly what I was suggesting and made it a recruiting time for them.
When I asked Jackie how she think it went for possible people she had a wonderful response, “We will see who follows up.”
Not all 20 students met with one of the three that came to recruit. Some had to go to other classes and took their cards. Some talked to them.
My suggestion anytime a possible employer comes to your class do your best to meet them. Show interest in them and try to learn as much as you can about their work environment and what they do. There is no job to turn down until they offer one.
If you take their card then write to them a letter thanking them for coming. Why? The reason is quite simple. You need to network and build your contact database and build relationships. While you may not work for the person you meet they are often a great resource with their network to put you in touch with someone else that might be a better fit. You can’t find this out unless you make an attempt at building those relationships which will become your network for the rest of your life.