Next Gen Dinner Series sets graduating students up for success

Toronto event provides students with networking, training and mentoring opportunities in the marketing industry

Students and industry professionals meet at Next Gen Dinner Series 2017.
Supplied by Ad Lounge

Each year, soon-to-be and recent post-secondary graduates struggle to find their place in the workforce. For students in marketing, design, digital, communications, advertising or an MBA program, the Next Gen Dinner Series could be the event that kick-starts their career.

Since 2011, the Next Gen Dinner Series is an event that pairs innovative companies with top graduating students in the marketing, creative, advertising, and digital fields. The dinner series is hosted by Ad Lounge, an organization that hosts events serving the marketing, advertising, digital media and communications community.

Andrea Vacl, a Content Creation Specialist at Glance Marketing company who does public relations work for Next Gen, spoke to The Journal about the series in a phone interview on Wednesday.

This year’s dinner series will be held at the Toronto restaurant Archeo on Mar. 20. According to Vacl, students and recent grads can apply for the program online and successful applicants will be invited for an interview. From there, a finalist group of 71 individuals is selected to attend the series.

“[Ad Lounge is] looking for self starters who are eager to jump into the industry,” Vacl said. “Making a great first impression, like discussing an article in the latest industry magazine, like Strategy, definitely makes them stand out from the crowd [in an interview].”

Finalists participate in a professional training program provided by the company Combustion. The training session is conducted by Combustion’s President Leslie Ehm, who provides participants with useful tools on how to land a job, presentation skills and the value of researching before an interview.

“To be able to differentiate yourself is super valuable today, and that’s something this program offers,” she said.

Once participants complete training, they attend the dinner itself. Here, they are able to network with industry experts. This year, eight companies will be attending the dinner: IPG Mediabrands, Addictive Mobility, Bridgeable, Isobar, Ruckus, Yellow Pages and HUGE. The series has hosted many notable companies in the past, including Google and Amazon.

“It’s a very unique opportunity because they get to sit and talk with these high-level people in the companies that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to talk to or meet with,” Vacl said.

Since the program began seven years ago, Vacl said participants have seen great success. This includes some of them even being hired by companies directly out of the program. 

“I’ve actually had a chance to talk to quite a few of the students who have moved on after to do really incredible things,” Vacl said. “This is an incredible opportunity because executives are coming here looking for talent.”

Applications for this year’s series are due online by Jan. 15.


This article used to reflect that the eight companies going were all focused in marketing and communications. 


The article has updated the spelling of Ad Lounge 

The Journal regrets the error.

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