Professor Jason Kaplan on “Finding Comfort in Discomfort”

For most seniors, the toss of their cap at graduation signals their goodbye to university life. For Jason Kaplan (COM ‘12), it was just the beginning. As an adjunct professor at BU and senior copywriter at Razorfish, he has beneficial advice to offer on how students can make the most of current industry-wide hiring freezes.

Rachel Silberman: What does a day in the life of a Senior Copywriter at Razorfish look like?

Jason Kaplan: We have a variety of different clients that have business challenges and it is our job to solve those challenges in original, unique, and effective ways that translate to certain goals like engagement, awareness, or purchasing. As a writer, it’s my job to express those solutions through words. This can take the form of written word, scriptwriting, or building characters, personality, and tone for a brand. 

RS: Many students fear that the communication industry does not have the same stability that other careers may have. Have you experienced that? How has it shaped your career?

JK: I had the same concerns. Within 9 months of my first job, the company went under and everyone got laid off. It shaped my approach [to my career], which is that the skill I offer will always be in demand, but the format or environment by which it is in demand will constantly be changing. It’s been imperative for me to find comfort in discomfort. It’s an exciting way to continue learning and being the best that you can be.

RS: How do you navigate that?

JK: It’s this constant process of meeting interesting people and learning more about how the world around you works. People think they need to know everything to start, but in reality, it’s a process of learning those unknowns that helps strengthen what we can offer.

RS: Much of your career is now spent back in a classroom. What inspired you to return to BU as an adjunct professor?

JK: In my junior year, I had a class with Professor Justin Joseph. At the time, it was his second full year as an adjunct professor and I gravitated toward his perspective on the industry. That class and my experience with him made me start to think that, down the road, I would love the opportunity to provide that same perspective and insight to future students. 

I never saw myself as a professor and in my ways, I still don’t. The amount of education, experience, and effort that goes into becoming a full-time faculty member at Boston University is in a class of its own. I don’t pretend to possess even half of that, but I need to focus instead on what I can offer. I have very recent experience of what it’s like to enter the job field and what it’s like in advertising today, especially transitioning to an entirely digital offering. 

I have to pinch myself because I never thought that I would be back in COM in the capacity that I am. It’s a full-circle, extremely fulfilling experience. What better proof point for the value of a BU education than being invited to continue that legacy?

RS: How has the adjustment to a remote learning world been for you as a professor?

JK: I am still getting familiar with teaching in the classroom, so the shift to an all-virtual learning environment at first was extremely intimidating and changed a lot of what I had planned. I have to commend Boston University and the College of Communication and I am extremely proud of my students for making the transition. I’m humbled by the response of the university at large for making the transition as boldly as they did.

RS: Most graduating students are in a panic over how to proceed with the job search. As someone “on the inside,” what is your advice?

JK: This is a nice chance to take a step back and reflect on your offerings, strengths, and where you want to apply those strengths. Students are making the best cases for their hire-ability… – like, “look how well I’ve rolled with the punches already, now imagine what I can do for you.” A pandemic like what we’re seeing now is forcing hirers to realize that it’s not just who has the most relevant skills, but also who’s willing to prove that they can accommodate the industry and have the flexibility that’s required for us to succeed going forward.

Take a breath. It’s okay to not have everything figured out – I don’t. This is the most relevant way to start, where you’re not asking, “what should my last step be?” You’re asking “what do I need now, what can I offer now, what would be good for me now?” 

Rachel Silberman, Staff Writer

Rachel Silberman is a senior studying PR at BU. She’s originally from Philadelphia, is passionate about health and wellness and social impact, and also loves to travel.

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