Peg Murphy thinks advertising is the perfect place for young creatives to find a career path (and a paycheck).
Associate professor Peg Murphy came to Columbia College Chicago with more than 25 years of experience working with ad agencies, helping craft campaigns for big-name companies like Apple Inc., Crate & Barrel, and Marshall Field’s. Today, the advertising pro brings her expertise to the classroom, teaching everything from intro-level classes to senior capstones.
Making Tough Calls
Murphy used to train young agency executives, and she approaches Columbia students in the same way. One of her classroom staples is the “ugly phone call,” a roleplaying exercise in which students deal with a fictional crisis situation. Problems can range from budget and deadline changes to social media meltdowns. “I treat [students] as young future professionals,” says Murphy. “You have to be quick on your feet, a good thinker and a fast responder to the situation.”
Advertising and the Arts
Advertising offers opportunities for artists, writers, directors—pretty much any young creative—to find an outlet (and a paycheck). Murphy herself is a classically trained musician in cello and piano, and studied theatre. She finds that her creative sensibilities and dramatic flair fit perfectly into the advertising world—and Columbia’s unconventional campus. “Columbia is very close to my heart, because I have an artistic soul,” Murphy says. “I think a lot of people that end up teaching here do.”
Murphy also thinks an 18-hour Advertising or Public Relations minor can be a smart add-on to an arts degree. “Your vocation in advertising or PR can really feed your avocation,” she says. “If you want to be a filmmaker or a novelist … a videographer, a documentarian, you should come play with us.”
Ready for the Real World
Murphy brings a unique perspective to the classroom. She remembers when she used to hire at advertising firms—and when she came across Columbia resumes.
Columbia’s focus on internships with top ad agencies and insistence on field experience helps students prepare for real-world interactions. “Chicago’s one of the biggest advertising and PR markets in the country,” says Murphy. “And [students] are out and in it, learning from people who are in the business.”
She recalls being consistently impressed with Columbia students at interviews. “Sitting on the other side of the desk, hiring students from Columbia—they are smart, they are strategic, they know what’s really going on and they are ready to work,” she says.