Brand strategist David Kelbaugh joins other MJF alums to advise students on media careers

Written by Madison Witherell, CAS communications intern

Department of Media, Journalism, and Film's Distinguished Alumni Panel (left to right): Chad Wollett, Ida Lieszkovszky Hargitai, David Kelbaugh, Jennifer Duck, Yvette R. Simpson

On Monday, April 18, David Kelbaugh and four other Miami alums that work in media came to speak at a panel presentation to give Miami students advice and share their different career paths.

Kelbaugh graduated from Miami with a degree in mass communication (now media and culture) and Spanish in 1999 and, along with alums Jennifer Duck, Ida Lieszkovszky Hargitai, Chad Wollett, and Yvette R. Simpson, was visiting campus as part of the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film's Distinguished Alumni Days event.

Although he has only been in advertising for fifteen years, Kelbaugh has had quite a good run.

He told students that after graduation from Miami he moved to Chicago, where he spent several years working for major advertising agencies such as Draft FCB, Ogvily & Mather, and Leo Burnett to develop campaigns for Allstate, Sprint, BP, and more.

Although many college students and young adults struggle to decide on a career path, Kelbaugh admits his own luck. "I have always had the good fortune of knowing what I wanted to do," he said.

Not only did he know what he was passionate about, but he also knew that Chicago would be the place for him, which is where he currently resides today.

This didn't mean that Kelbaugh didn't have to put in hard work. His work ethic allowed him to finally leave global ad agencies behind and take a chance on himself. Two years ago Kelbaugh started his own company, Tacklebox, where he is the CEO and founder. Tacklebox is a brand strategy and marketing company.

David Kelbaugh makes a point at the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film's Distinguished Alumni Days event.

Tacklebox's success can be partly credited to Kelbaugh's networking skills.

"The start-up community in Chicago is all about networking," Kelbaugh said, adding that the work that had gone into networking has allowed Tacklebox to make important connections and gain clients.

Since networking often leads to personal connections, Kelbaugh stressed a rule that is true to any career field: "Treat people well, and understand that if you do that they will treat you well."

Kelbaugh also advised students that while at Miami they should try to produce as much as they possibly can. "Creating this content is not only great experience for you, but it shows employers firsthand what you are capable of," he said.

But maybe most importantly, Kelbaugh shared that when interviewing potential job candidates, passion is one of the major things he looks for.

Sophomore strategic communication and professional writing major Kersten Beck, who attended the panel presentation, witnessed Kelbaugh's passion for his career. "I thought that he was very honest when saying that your first job might not be so glamorous," she said, "but it helps to build your professional toolbox, which will eventually help land you the job of your dreams."

Clearly, Kelbaugh's passion for advertising has gotten him far in his field, showing his advice truly has validity.