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Illini Comeback Guest Ron Bess '69 BUS, MS '72 MEDIA
Ron Bess, former Illini and president of Havas Worldwide North America, was the College of Media’s Illini Comeback guest Oct. 26. Bess spoke to Media students and faculty about his path into the world of advertising, the importance of keeping “digital,” and how students can make themselves marketable to a potential employer.
Bess addressed students while sitting down around a conference table in order to stay on their level and “have a conversation,” he said.
After graduating from the University with a degree in Marketing, Bess went back to school to be a Graduate Assistant for the football program at Illinois. He soon changed course and graduated with a degree in Advertising from, what was then, the College of Communications.
Beginning at an ad agency in Chicago, Bess eventually moved his way up in the field until he was working with prominent clients such as McDonalds.
“I went to go work in Chicago not knowing what to expect,” Bess said. “…You never know what’s going to come up and take you down that path. I loved [football], but it was a very narrow world. It’s all you do, 24/7.”
Bess also gave students advice about how to present themselves in the best way when interviewing for a job, and said the top three things he pays attention to when hiring is an employee’s background in the field, demonstrated commitment to moving forward, and personal presentation.
“A passive, uncertain interview isn’t going to go anywhere,” Bess said.
Lauren Rohr, a sophomore in News-Editorial Journalism and a College of Media Student Ambassador, was one of the student attendees. She said she enjoyed hearing about Bess’ experiences, and thought he gave students good advice on how to be when it comes time to looking for a job.
“He is extremely successful in advertising, but his advice was applicable to every field,” Rohr said. “It's important to work hard and grasp any opportunity as it comes to you.”
Jan Slater, Interim dean for the College of Media, said that the University is fortunate to “have a group of engaged alumni” like Bess.
“Ron has really been influential, he has built an incredible career that all of you studying advertising should strive for,” Slater said.