Carter Smith

Get to know some of our College of Media students! Carter Smith is a Class of 2024 computer science + advertising major.

What led to you choosing computer science + advertising at the University of Illinois?
I took computer science classes in high school, and I knew that’s what I wanted to pursue. But I didn’t want to limit myself to just one field of study. Illinois has a lot of CS + X programs, it was a matter of picking something that I was passionate about. When I researched CS+Advertising and the College of Media at Illinois, I was interested. Illinois has one of the oldest [the first] advertising programs in the country and we have experienced faculty who have known the industry. Having a major that combines the creative side and the technical side was the perfect combination to me and that eventually led me to pick computer science + advertising.

How has your experience combining these two fields of study been?
I’ve loved it. I tell my parents I don’t think I could have made a better choice because I am super glad to have the chance to study two different things and how they intersect. I have enjoyed working both parts of my brain through my classes. Being able to take technical classes and then having a change of pace with media—being able to think more creatively and freely, plus having more group work and being able to discuss my ideas with others more often has been nice. 

What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone who wants to pursue a major in computer science + advertising?
Be ready to commit yourself because it’s a lot different than a traditional major. It requires more skill sets than just having one field of study and having every class be related. You’re working with very different people and on very different things. It’s a little disorientating at times when you switch between highly technical and creative out-of-the-box thinking assignments. If you are passionate about both subjects, you’ll love it and it’ll be the best thing ever. It might take some time to get used to so be prepared to work and commit yourself to both parts.

Have you been involved with any media-related RSOs on campus?
I’ve been involved with the American Advertising Federation. I cannot emphasize enough, if you are an advertising major or a blended advertising major, you should be involved with AAF. The community of involved and passionate advertising majors is fantastic. AAF offers ways to apply your knowledge in both an agency and competition setting. 

I was involved in the National Student Advertising Competition for a few years. In NSAC, you work over the course of the semester to create a campaign for a client, and you present it at the end of the semester. I was on the media team for NSAC. We were responsible for planning media schedules and researching media-buying for the campaign, which involved finding market rates and working with the other teams to determine the creative and when to deploy it. You learn how to work on a team.

What has been your favorite class under the College of Media?
ADV 390: Content Creation with Peter Sheldon is a great course. In Content Creation you do research and turn that into a physical product or campaign. That class is a lot of group work and Peter Sheldon is a fantastic lecturer. He has relatable stories and pieces of advice that make the course content feel real, as if you’re part of a real industry. Learning from him and doing group work was a lot of fun.

What is your career goal when you graduate from the University of Illinois?
I am going to be a software engineer for Clideo; I’m really excited for that. In the future I would like to find some position that combines a software or a technical role with media.

If you had to give freshman-year you one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Even now I find myself finding new opportunities, clubs that I am super interested in. The amount of communities that we have for unique interests, majors, activities, career paths, whatever you are interested in, you can find on campus. Go out and try, if you think you are slightly interested, go. Finding your community while you are here is super important. 

Interview by Feli Arreguin, New Voices Intern