South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference features a variety of tracks that allow attendees to explore what’s next in the worlds of entertainment, culture, and technology. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together. Eller Senior Connor Orth (Marketing/Entrepreneurship) attend the conference over Spring Break.
Please give a brief description of the conference you attended. Your opening paragraph on your blog works well here
South by Southwest isn’t an easily-digestible weekend conference — it’s an interdisciplinary two-week summit in Austin, TX that brings together marketers, artists, engineers, musicians, educators, politicos and more for a global convergence event focusing on using creativity and innovation for public good.
How did it feel to be a college student at a conference full of seasoned professionals?
As a college student at a professional conference, I felt humbled by the fact that despite all of my professional experience and involvement while attending the UA, I didn’t really have that much to offer to other attendees from a career-growth networking perspective. So instead I took a different approach to South By Southwest — to learn as much as I could from the attendees and session speakers who currently hold the positions I dream of attaining.
Did this conference change or help to shape your future career goals?
SXSW had a significant impact on my planned career trajectory. A common theme occurred during my conversations with creative professionals from various backgrounds: if the opportunities surrounding you aren’t exactly what you were looking for: create them yourself. I was able to have conversations with industry professionals that were using their business education to market topics and skills that they were passionate about. For students looking to combine analytical thought with creative talent: there are industries that need you, and they can be incredibly lucrative if you’re willing to put in the work.
Do you have advice for students hoping or planning to attend in the future?
SXSW can be overwhelming with the enormous amount of events that it offers. Make sure you come in with a plan regarding the sort of content and sessions you’d like to see but don’t worry if you can’t stick to it — some of my favorite moments were chance encounters with fascinating people who were more than happy to share their experiences and expertise with me.
SXSW has a large marketing focus. Can you share some of the themes you noticed in marketing trends?
SXSW is a lens for the biggest trends in the convergence of marketing, music, film, and tech. This year’s major topics included Virtual & Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, the influence of “big data” on Advertising, and the evolution of transportation.
Who were the big companies advertising and/or participating?
Facebook, CitiBank, Gatorade, IBM, Sony, Google, YouTube, Mazda, and Bud Light were just a small subsection of the brands who spent large sums to leave a mark on conference attendees. International showcases presented the brightest technological and creative talent from around the globe.