The best prizes are jobs
T he American Red Cross depends on
sales of blood products, such as plas-
ma, for more than half its revenues.
But with the AIDS crisis cutting into blood
collections, the charity is being forced into
new marketing plans to bring in additional
cash for disaster relief. To help, the Ameri-
can Marketing Association (AMA), a trade
group for advertising pros and students, is
sponsoring a collegiate competition for ad
campaigns. The prize: $1,000 and-not so
coincidentally-the chance to shine in the
eyes of potential employers.
More and more students are entering
competitions these days. The contests dif-
fer; some, like the two-year-old AMA ver-
sion, seek real solutions to fund-raising
problems facing nonprofit groups. Others,
like the annual contest run by the Ameri-
can Advertising Federation (AAF), ask stu-
dents to design sales pitches for specific
products; this year Nestl6 is seeking an
upscale image for its chocolate products.
Still other contests, like those run three
times a year by the American Institute of
Architecture Students (AIAS), seek hypo-
thetical design solutions for existing struc-
tures-such as a new terminal for Washing-
ton's Dulles International Airport.
What makes these contests so popular?
Organizations get exposure to potential
lifetime dues-payers. Corporate backers
get good ideas, cheap. In the AAF contest,
for instance, they own the rights to the
winning ideas; an AAF brochure aimed at
potential business sponsors suggests that
they'll obtain entree to "Madison Avenue's
next generation at a fraction of the cost."
But what do contestants get? At the very
least, according to Carlene Nolan-Peder-
son, a senior at Montana State, one can
expect an enhanced application to grad
school. "This shows my breadth beyond
artwork," says Nolan-Pederson, who took
third place in an AIAS contest last fall.
At most, students hope, they will even
snare a job. Steve Nisberg, an employment
manager at Young and Rubicam, Inc.,
agrees that winning is impressive. "When I
look through the thousands of resumes we
receive, I look for any related work experi-
ence," says Nisberg. "I know how much
goes into preparing these presentations."
So does David Penick, an associate at
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who says hy-
pothetical design projects are "very repre-
sentative of what [the student] has accomp-
lished." Not every hiring professional
concurs. "There's a gulf a mile wide be-
tween schoolwork and practical work,"
says Steve Achilles, an associate at John
Burgee Architects. Still, ambition springs
eternal. Like any lottery-ticket buyer, con-
testants figure: you have to be in it to win it.
Pay It as It Lays
Tired of flipping burgers or pushing a
library cart for a pittance? If so, a new
book by John J. Lyons, How to Pay Your
Way Through College (The Smart Way) (243
pages. Banbury Books, Inc. $795) just
might change your life-or at least your
workday. This is a practical guide to entre-
preneurship (don't expect any glittering
prose), listing various types of student-run
businesses and ways to start them. The best
thing about this book, which covers serv-
ices from pool cleaning to personalized
T shirts, is that it doesn't talk in ab-
stractions. Real-life examples and the most
immediate and nuts-and-bolts information
are provided: start-up costs, profit poten-
tial, pitfalls, ways to advertise, lists of
wholesale suppliers and more.
At the age of 16, Lyons says, he started a
car-cleaning business aimed at luxury-
car owners. By the time he had graduat-
ed from the University of Delaware, his
sideline had paid all of his tuition
and expenses, with $50,000 to
spare. "Well, he was that one-
in-a-million cross between Su-
perman and Horatio Alger,"
you think. But no, Lyons cites
dozens of other students who
have enjoyed similar success-
es, including two who sold
Shetland sweaters at a dis-
count and now run a $40 mil-
lion-a-year wholesale business.
If there is a central theme to
Lyons's book, it seems to be,
"Anything is possible." So
throw off those minimum-wage
shackles and get ready to make
w. WALDREP some real money.
tants DOROTHY WANG
Name: Nelida Perez
Q. What does your
A. I run the Centro
De Estudios Puertoriqueos Li-
brary, a special collection of
Puerto Rican studies, at Hunter
College Library. As an archi-
vist, I try to document the his-
tory of the Puerto Rican com-
munity in the United States. I
collect, preserve and make ac-
cessible to the community the
personal papers of individuals
as well as the records oforganiza-
tions and institutions that have
played a part.
Q. Where do most archivists work?
A. Some do free-lance work, but
most work at institutions. Most
major libraries have archive
materials; others include his-
torical societies, symphonies
Q. What do you like best about your job?
A. I like working with the his-
torical materials-they're very
varied and give so much infor-
mation. Most minority groups
here are underdocumented, so
this is very special. I also enjoy
working with the people who
come in to use materials.
Q. What courses in college helped pre-
pare you for your work?
A. I majored in English and edu-
cation in college, but my real
preparation for archival work
has been in special programs-a
combination of practical and the-
oretical learning. There's actual-
ly a debate about that in the field.
Many archivists don't have for-
mal training but are terrific at
what they do. I think it's better to
have a history background and
workshops and study in the field.
Q. Have you faced any obstacles as a
member of a minority in this field?
A. Not personally. One problem,
though, is that schools by and
large don't have enough
courses that deal with minority
groups and issues, so I had to
pursue Puerto Rican studies
pretty much on my own.
In to win: Architectural judges and contes