Marketing student shares why future students should travel to SXSW
Taylor Burd is pursuing a Master of Science in marketing at the Daniels College of Business. As part of her class Marketing, Tech + Innovation course, she had an opportunity to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, March 11-15. Burd shares her personal thoughts on the experience and her advice to future attendees.
When I think about the chance my classmates and I had to attend South by Southwest as a part of our Marketing, Tech + Innovation class, I must say, “I feel like we fell out of the lucky tree and hit every branch on the way down, ended up in a pool of cash and Sour Patch Kids.” If you are a fan of the popular sports comedy television series Ted Lasso, you know these are the main character’s words, not mine, but I truly can’t sum up the feeling better myself.
In addition to attending a session about the third season of Ted Lasso and hearing from the famous coach himself, I heard from industry leaders in branding and design, learned how companies are engaging in the evolving metaverse, and looked 25 years ahead thanks to captivating talks by futurists. During the quick breaks in action, I shared lively meals with my fellow marketing classmates where we all shared our days’ sessions, explored new ideas, and grappled with varying points of view. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I do not say that lightly.
The Daniels College of Business provides students with a variety of travel experiences whether for a class, club or case competition. I suggest you take advantage of the opportunities and keep some of the following in mind when planning your schedule:
Remember why you’re in school
Graduate school can be exhausting at times. You are collaborating on projects for real clients, so the stakes are high. You’re juggling internships and general life responsibilities and trying to build a network in a new city. You sometimes get to the end of the quarter and can’t believe the next thing on your to-do list is to pack up and go to a five-day conference.
If you ever find yourself in this headspace, trust me, go on the trip. You enrolled in your program to get yourself on a meaningful career path and make a difference in the greater community. You need to go learn from pioneers in their field, hear about innovative brands, and put yourself in a place to make connections and spark your creativity. I promise, despite not sleeping eight hours a day, you’ll be flying home feeling rejuvenated and excited to tackle that next group project with a fresh set of ideas.
Prepare to be overwhelmed (in a good way)
Before leaving on the trip, many past attendees told us that it could be overwhelming. Until now, I always had a negative connotation toward that word. Now I realize that you can be positively overwhelmed by opportunities and the unknown.
To avoid feeling bogged down by how much is out there, commit to taking action on a few themes you explore during the experience. Reach out to a couple of the dozen contacts you made during the experience. Try to schedule calls to learn more about their new startups and entrepreneurial lifestyles. Subscribe to a business insights newsletter and commit to reading it. Have fun diving into the world of Web 3.0. No one has the metaverse figured out yet so you might as well get in the game and explore it too!
Look for connections everywhere
The Stanford d.school put on a session that explained that the human brain is incapable of creating new things from scratch. Instead, your brain relies on a depository of past ideas and experiences to create new ones. If this isn’t an excuse to get out in the world and make some memories, I don’t know what is!
Breakout of your comfort zone so you can start seeing more unique patterns and open yourself up to the possibility of doing something original. Seek comfort knowing that most of the SXSW speakers’ career paths were anything but linear. Feel liberated by this and enjoy exploring things that caught your interest even if they might be unrelated to your current job. Brendan Hunt, the actor that plays Coach Beard on Ted Lasso, told the audience that you never know what is going to end up being market research. I think he’s right!
Never eat alone
I stole this one from New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur Keith Ferrazzi, but he was definitely on to something. (I guess he topped the charts for a reason!) Sharing meals and stories with my classmates made this trip. Sure, the barbecue in Austin is amazing, but the conversation was even better. Since each of us attended a minimum of four sessions a day, we came to the table with so much to share. We all focused on different conference “tracks,” so we were able to learn from each other’s exploration of climate change solutions, NFTs, blockchain solutions, film technologies, etc. It is so inspiring to see your friends’ eyes light up and to learn from them and share in their passions.
I want to thank Michael Myers, teaching associate professor of marketing, for making this experience happen. Future students, make sure you make it happen for yourself too. A “classroom” can be a conference in the middle of Texas and just what you need at the end of a quarter!