“Don’t be afraid, because opportunities won’t come if you don’t try.” — Yuhang Wang ’20
Upon graduation from Franklin & Marshall College, Yuhang Wang ’20 had every reason to be afraid. She was a fresh college graduate facing a pandemic, a tumultuous job market and sky-high airline ticket prices home to China. The art major had two options: Find a job and remain in the U.S., or spend thousands of dollars to return home.
Wang decided to stay in the U.S. and seek a job or internship opportunity. She joined her friend and moved to Austin, Texas, where she began searching for F&M alumni in the area who could potentially help her find work. Using the True Blue Network, she discovered David Burn, a 1987 F&M alumnus who owns two advertising businesses, Adpulp and Bonehook. She had interest in becoming a logo designer, so she took the plunge and reached out to him. Wang explained her situation, shared pieces from her student portfolio, and made a case as to how she would be an asset to Burn’s businesses. Ultimately, Burn took the plunge, too, and hired her as an intern.
“It wasn’t something I was necessarily open to had she not been an F&M grad,” Burn said. “But now I’m thinking, ‘How can I hire her?’ She is the most outstanding intern I’ve ever seen.”
Burn, who started his advertising business during the 2008 financial crisis, discussed how F&M’s liberal arts education benefited both he and Wang in numerous ways. From showing self-direction and initiative with little guidance, to knowing how to think and learn, he noted their shared liberal arts background helped them approach the advertising world with success.
“What we have to do in the business is understand people. If we can’t understand people, we can’t create marketing that appeals to them,” Burn said. “What ads are the best? They’re the ones that sneak in and make you feel something, make you think something. Those ads are made by people who care about other people. And that’s a big part of the liberal arts education. And F&M is obviously great at that.”
Approaching advertising from the angle of graphic design, Wang said her liberal arts education was similarly helpful. As an art major, Wang said her F&M professors helped her hone her natural talent and develop it through constructive criticism. Her classwork also taught her how to improve her creative process and ability to solve problems.
“At F&M, I learned how to gather information for a target audience, discover exactly what they need, and how to utilize that when diving into a design,” she said.
The depth and breadth of those learned and natural skills, as well as Wang’s impressive creative portfolio, made Burn’s decision to hire Wang an easy one, he said.
“You want to see the fine artist in a designer, just like you want to see the writer in a copywriter,” he said. “Thanks to what we've learned at F&M, we're prepared to infuse the business world with art, writing, and meaning.”
Wang noted that the True Blue Network is a great resource that every student should tap.
“Students should really start using that tool and reach out to alumni as soon as possible,” Wang said. “Just do your research and don’t be afraid, because opportunities won’t come if you don’t try.”
Burn reiterated this, noting that, when reaching out to alumni, it’s important for a student to show they understand their business and how they’d bring value. It’s not just about you—it’s about your potential employer and why they should choose you over other candidates.
In the end, Wang’s plunge paid off.
“Before, I didn't have much practice in my technical skills and didn’t have a portfolio of actual projects,” she said. “David provided me with that opportunity to build a portfolio of real projects and to really use my design, critical thinking, and artistic skills.”