Choose Your Own Adventure: Ben Knauer - Advertising Copywriter - NYC Experience

Skyline of New York City


Ben Knauer
Ben Knauer
Advertising Copywriter
NYC Experience

Senior, Advertising Major

Dream career: Would like to work in athletics—baseball or football operations.  Or a copywriter or account manager for an ad agency.

Best aspect of New York advertising trip: I have a disability; I have cerebral palsy, which impacts my motor function on the extremities on my left side, so doing anything with two hands is really tough. However, there are many people who have much more severe cases of cerebral palsy.

Goals as an advertising copywriter: I want to be a voice for people with disabilities so they can be represented correctly in advertising. I feel like a lot of brands now are attaching not only disabilities but a lot of social causes to their brands. However, it doesn’t really work with what their brand is. I have been able to talk to people about why I want to get into advertising and to help their agency produce work that will impact people. I’ve been able to ask them if they’ve ever had people with disabilities in their process, and about including those groups in their work.

Greatest challenge during New York trip: I’m doing my research beforehand, because the agencies we visit are spending a lot of time and resources to have us visit, so we really have to be prepared. This is a business trip, and I’m really excited for it. It’s going to be a great experience. We’re not going on the trip as students. We’re going on the trip as professionals.

“I want to be a voice for people with disabilities so they can be represented correctly in advertising. I feel like a lot of brands now are attaching not only disabilities, but a lot of social causes to their brands. However, it doesn’t really work with what their brand is.” — Ben Knauer


Ben Knauer


UO SOJC students James Vos, Ben Knauer, Thomas Rice, Gianni Nardi, Kyle Steffens, Emily Pearson, Kathryn Harris, Casey Hickman, Jordan Bremer jumping in Central Park


UO SOJC student Ammas Tanveer posing in Times Square

NYC Experience
By Laurie Notaro
Photos by Emma Oravecz, Justin Hartney, Henry Ammann, and Noah Andrews

Advertising Students Land Jobs, Internships, and Awards in the Big Apple

Twelve years ago, Deb Morrison took 10 students to New York City to visit advertising agencies so they could get a better idea of what the profession looked like in real time. Each year, the numbers climbed, and then in 2014, they hit the magic 100.

Last week, that number climbed to 113 students on the trip, all staying at the Roosevelt Hotel on East 44th Street and Madison Avenue, the heart of the world’s advertising industry. The group is so large that it’s impossible for everyone to visit the same agencies, but to Morrison, there is power in numbers.

“When you have 113 students, you can be immersive,” said Morrison, Carolyn Silva Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising. “Scale is beautiful if you want to get things done.”

Altogether, the students traveled to 40 agencies, studios, and media outlets. Each group visited seven outlets, with their first stop at Wieden+Kennedy. The international firm that is not only one of the top in the world, according to Morrison, but was founded by SOJC alumnus Dan Wieden, BS ’67.

“They’re family,” she said, going on to explain that the agency opens its doors to the six accompanying faculty members and all 113 students, some of whom will most likely end up working there someday. Student specialties range from design and strategy to writing, management, and production.

“We do a great job of getting our students from baseline to mastery, and this trip helps to do that,” she added. “Having the students go into the center of the idea industry changes their lives.”

UO SOJC students at Wieden+Kennedy in NYC. Photo by Emma Oravecz.
All 113 University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications visit Wieden + Kennedy in NYC on the annual advertising trip

They visit small and big agencies, powerhouses like 72andSunny and Droga 5, production houses, YouTube, Spotify, Squarespace. Morrison stresses that the trip is not a tour—it’s an experience. Connections are made, mentorships forms, lines of communication opened.

“I tell the students that the purpose of going on this trip is to learn and discover, so don’t think going in that you’re going to get an internship,” Morrison cautioned. “But usually up to half of the people go get internships or jobs. The opportunity is amazing.”

The takeaway for all of them is far more extensive than seeing an agency in motion, or talking to people the students hope to someday become.

“The beauty of experiential learning is that you get to see, feel, hear where you are,” Morrison said. “We go to the places that we feel are doing justice to creativity, and that exhibit innovative practices. People usually don’t have that entrée for a good part of their career.”

Many students take the trip their junior year and again their senior year. The trip is always scheduled to coincide with Creative Week, during which the One Club for Creativity holds awards ceremonies for both professional and student categories. Donors purchased tickets for every student.

“We have a lot of entries,” Morrison added. “I bet we’ll hear our names.”

NYC Experience


A University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications student Karel Calcote in Times Square during the annual New York advertising trip


A University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications student Sydnie Johnson experiences the subway in the annual New York advertising trip


University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications Professor Deb Morrison wrangles students with a bullhorn during the annual New York advertiting trip


UO SOJC stuents Scotty Williams II, Ryan Hus, Duane Harris sitting on a curb with camera equipment

What Our Alumni Are Saying


Matt Heath
Matt Heath

New York Ad Trip Alumnus
Class of 2007

Current position: I just recently left my position as an executive creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles to start my own ad agency. We’re called Party Land and I’m the CEO. 

How did the ad trip to New York help you in your career?  The trip to New York for the College One show launched my career. No question. I was hired on the spot, on that trip, not because I had a great portfolio but because I was put in front of someone who could see my potential during an interview. Had I gone the traditional route of just emailing people my work, I think I would have had a much more difficult time getting that first job. For most people, your job doesn’t just come to you. Going out and actively seeking your opportunities is exactly what the real world is all about—you gotta go get it.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, I dread the thought of where I might be had I not taken that trip.

Choose Your Own Adventure


Srushti Kamat Srushti


David Choe David
Art Director


Rachel Benner Rachel


Quinn Blackwolf Quinn
Public Relations Account Executive


Travis Kim Travis
Ad Executive


Jaclyn Robinson Jaclyn
Nonprofit Public Relations Strategist


Kim Duyck Kim
Public Information Officer


Ben Knauer Ben
Advertising Copywriter


Kaylee Domzalski Kaylee
Multimedia Journalist


Ashley Rendall Ashley
Magazine Community Builder


Zach Putnam Zach
Documentary Filmmaker


Emma Childs Emma

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