It was early 2006, and I was handing over twenty-five dollars to the girl at the Student Activities office at Johnson & Wales University. I couldn’t help but feel unhappy that I had to pay more just to be one of the five presenters on the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team.
There I was, disgruntled, paying my first dues.
Flash forward to me getting knocked in the chin and almost crushed by my teammates as we were announced District 1 champions. What a rush! The first win for our school after eight years of participating and a trip to ADMERICA (that year in San Francisco!!) was all I needed to get over my grudge.
My love affair with AAF now spans 10 years. Those years have been filled with wonderful friends, exciting adventures and more leadership development than I could’ve ever dreamed of. So when I was asked to write this blog, I was more than elated to share my story.
Here are the top eight moments AAF made me admit overwhelming happiness.
- Stopping at a little shop on San Francisco Bay to sit and sample caviar and Champagne with my 2006 District 1 winning team. This wasn’t a school event, this was an impromptu celebration between five students that bonded over several months of creating a crazy, “big idea” campaign.
- My first Triangle AdFed (formerly AAF-RDU) event for the PSA program. At the registration desk, I met Lisa Rondina, who introduced herself as the current president. I told her my NSAC background and insisted she put me on the board. She insisted on lunch!
- Driving to my first District 3 Leadership conference in Greenville, South Carolina and getting a call from fellow board member, Mike McTaggart. He was calling to tell me about a job he thought I would be interested in with one of his clients. Two weeks later, I started at Training Industry, Inc. and ended a two-year job search!
- Meeting my former JWU adviser, Oscar Chilabato and his current team at ADMERICA in Austin, Phoenix, Boca Raton and Las Vegas. I have been awestruck to witness their successes and am honored to be included in their celebrations each year.
- Spending quality time at conferences and events with my Triangle AdFed two-time past president, Amber Frasketi. She has been one of my go-to’s during my time with the local club and has always been an outstanding mentor.
- Surprisingly taking over the District 3 NSAC coordinator position hallway through the competition year. When I took the job, I didn’t know how I would get everything done, however, competition day came and went in a successful whirlwind.
- Having a work husband for a year in order to fulfill my local board duties of becoming president. I knew I couldn’t support a 22-member board alone and recruited my long-time fellow board member, Ben Schwabauer, to be co-president. Between lots of communication and compromise, we led a talented board to an amazing Club of the Year win! It was a gift I could’ve never dreamed up.
- Mentoring a colleague who ended up being a valued friend! When Jessica Eure joined my company in 2012 and mentioned she enjoyed doing non-profit work, I quickly enlisted her on the board. Over the years, we have grown, supported and learned from each other through both of our Club of the Year wins!
My journey with AAF has come full circle. I began as a student, unable to see value beyond my NSAC adventure. Now, a decade later, that measly twenty-five dollar membership fee seems like the best deal of my life. Thanks, AAF for making me so very happy over the years.
About the Author
Amanda Longo is Creative Marketing Director at Training Industry, Inc. where she develops award-winning advertising for global training organizations. She is actively involved in furthering marketing education through participation in the American Advertising Federation where she was awarded Division IV President of The Year in 2014.
Past president, past communications, membership and member-at-large chair, Triangle AdFed