By Hannah Stewart (Comm’19)
Matthew Mendoza, like many first-year college students, didn’t know exactly what he wanted to study at university. But after an introductory advertising course, he declared a major in strategic communication, which led him to an internship at a top advertising company.
This past summer, Mendoza spent 10 weeks as a digital media resident in account management for UM Worldwide, a global media and advertising giant. Most of his position was remote, but he also spent time in the company’s Manhattan office, which allowed him to both network and get the sense of a possible future at a big firm.
Now he is set to graduate in spring 2023 with a degree in strategic communication focusing on advertising strategy. After being exposed to real-world marketing and advertising, Mendoza says his future feels more in focus: After graduation, he hopes to work in a large agency, ideally, in New York City.
“Working in a large setting like that, it tends to be a little bit harsh,” Mendoza said. “I want to be pushed above my comfort zone.”
As a first-year student, Mendoza went into college with an open mind, planning to take as many classes as possible to try and find the right fit. His first semester, he took an introductory class in the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design. By the next semester, he transferred out of an open option program within the College of Arts and Sciences and into CMCI.
“I identified with being able to be creative in a professional environment,” he said. “I also like the idea of maintaining and building relationships and thinking of things like strategy and copy.”
Mendoza said that he liked the feeling of knowing his peers and his professors; and that the support from his professors and advisors was extremely helpful and valuable.
“I like the idea of being in a smaller college with a smaller major. . . . You’re able to be creative through media production, through strategy, whatever it may be,” he said.
In his advertising classes, Mendoza learned how UM Worldwide “shaped the advertising industry.” So when it came time to search for internships, he immediately honed in on one with the company. He reached out to some of his ARPD professors, who helped guide him throughout the interview process.
Then during summer 2022, Mendoza worked both remotely and in New York City for UM Worldwide as a digital media resident.
“What I loved so much about it was the culture,” Mendoza said. “Support was offered to me the whole time and they truly cared about teaching me.”
In one major project, he created slide decks analyzing performance statistics for the New York Lottery. His data analysis—of sales, clicks and views—were sent to lottery representatives to evaluate the success of their marketing campaigns from that year.
UM also had Mendoza and the other program participants compete in teams to create a hypothetical pitch for IHOP. His team came up with an interactive campaign called #TheIHOPExperience to appeal to college students. This theoretical plan included food trucks and merchandise giveaways, and some marketing mockups were shared with IHOP’s communication team.
Mendoza felt as though he had a leg up compared to some of his other colleagues—he had already learned about writing briefs and using various research methods in his APRD classes. Those introductory courses initially give students a wide overview of strategic communication and marketing, and with time, become more niche, according to students’ preferred areas of study.
“I love how the [CMCI] curriculum is structured,” Mendoza said. “I got to take my knowledge and background and actually see it and do it . . . and I took a part of CU [to New York].”