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I discovered success at SJGC. You can too

Allen Goodrum | Staff writer

Allen GoodrumForty-plus creative awards, an American Advertising Federation (AAF) scholarship winner, and three promotions within a span of five years with one of the top companies nationally.

How’d I get here? What motivated me to stay focused and thrive in an industry that statistically has a small demographic of African-American success? Let me take you on a journey of a Florida A&M University graduate who catapulted into a competitive industry to excel, emerge a success and become a leading creative expert.

Throughout this piece, I hope that up-and-coming designers far and wide will be motivated and inspired to break down barriers, to hold tight to their aspirations and be the author of the change you want to see in your life and those around you. Let me give you a glimpse at my story, my challenges and my triumphs.

My name is Allen Goodrum, aassociate director of multimedia design at Moore, a highly regarded communications agency in Tallahassee. I am a 2015 graduate of FAMU’s SJGC program where I continued to leverage my working knowledge of being a graphic designer.

I came in as a transfer student after graduating from Tallahassee Community College in 2011 with a degree in graphic design. My time at FAMU was eventful and the pace was fast as I jumped right in at full force making sure I stood out in a pool of talented classmates who all shared similar goals. While attending FAMU I caught the attention of Kay Wilder, a graphic design professor. I studied and mentored under her until program completion. Professor Wilder played a pivotal role in my growth and navigation of an industry that I wanted to thrive in.

With her guidance I was afforded many opportunities that shaped my career and gave me a strong foundation to succeed. I was introduced to industry leaders within the Tallahassee market and participated in campus job fairs where I landed my first internship opportunity at the Tallahassee Democrat as a graphic design intern for their marketing department. Shortly after my internship with the Democrat, I was offered an opportunity to work my very first full-time job as a graphic design specialist for the Florida Department of Education. I interviewed for the position where I had to compete with other FAMU students and take an on-site design test.

Was I nervous? Definitely! Still exuding confidence and keeping my composure under pressure; I landed the job. Having confidence and staying focused on the future is the key to success.

Approaching my senior year at FAMU, I had already interned for a media company and had been working for the state. During that time, I was awarded the Rodney Austin Roberts Graphic Design Senior of the Year Award and won close to 10 Florida Print Awards, which is an annual statewide competition for excellence in design. As graduation got closer, SJGC’s program introduced a new professor to the graphic communication program. That was Anosh Gill, a 20-plus years industry expert who brought creative/art director knowledge to the program. I quickly took to Professor Gill and learned as much as I could from him in my final months. Upon graduation, Professor Gill helped me prepare and focus on the technicalities and presentation style of being ready to compete in a full-service advertising agency or firm.

With graduation approaching, he encourage me to attend a local AAF Creatives & Cocktails mingling event with major industry executives and directors. Super nervous, I made my way through the crowds to break the ice. While there I was introduced to the associate managing director of brand development, Ashlee Weber, with Moore. Making connections is one of the keys to getting your foot into the door of the corporate world. Four months away from graduation I was offered an opportunity of a lifetime. I was offered an internship with Moore. Hitting the ground running the minute I stepped in, I was on the fast track to grabbing hold of my dream career way before I thought it was supposed to happen. My first two weeks were fast-paced, challenging, and a bit exciting as I tried to navigate my way through this new experience. I made sure that I was personable and open to constructive feedback to show that I was a team player and I was passionate about my career.Allen Goodrum

At the end of the first two weeks, I was offered a part-time position with the company once they recognized my drive and hunger to learn, excel and lead. While working at Moore I was introduced to American Advertising Federation (AAF) Awards, the industry's largest creative competition, with nearly 35,000 professional and student participants each year through local club competitions. I was encouraged to enter my latest student works from the previous year and apply for their AAF Student Scholarship for $1,000. What a magical night it was for me. There I am, sitting at this beautiful banquet table with my firm. My name was called for the scholarship. As the night continued, my name was continuously called for all three entries I entered for my student work.

All of the entries won gold level ADDYS. I ultimately took home the biggest honor of the night, Student Best of Show. I was contacted by multiple firms around town after a historic night, as they scouted and tried to hire me immediately. Moore quickly recognized a talent they hadn’t seen in a while. I was offered a full-time graphic designer position prior to graduating.

At that moment, I knew it was meant for me to be here and I had a purpose in an industry with less than 3% African-Americans. As I take a glance back at my skyrocketing growth in my career; 40-plus awards, multiple promotions, goals that have been accomplished, I often wonder what effect this could have on the future of another student. Regardless of their ethnic background or unfortunate circumstances, breaking down barriers and building the steps for success is inevitable for anyone who puts in the time and effort to achieve a sustainable career in the creative industry. I’m truly grateful for those around me who’ve helped sow seeds of encouragement, love, and light. I’m honored to share a glimpse of my story, my challenges and my triumphs.