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Campaigns, connections, and possibly the best sleep these volunteers have ever had.

Ahh, the joys of autumn. Pumpkin spice lattes. Football. They’ve got nothing on the excitement brewing for CreateAthon@USC 2017.  From Nov. 3 to 4, students and mentors deprive themselves of sleep, and perhaps even sanity, developing advertising and marketing communications for many good causes in just 24 intense hours.

It’s an all-volunteer, pro bono effort that benefits everyone involved: advancing the causes of deserving nonprofits, ramps up student skills, and brings professional mentors and students together in an experience that is intense, challenging, rewarding — and fun.

Think you can make the cut? The call is out for volunteer students and mentors. Applications are at our “Get Involved” tab. (Where else?) In an extreme vetting process to rival the NFL draft, applicants will be assessed and assigned to nonprofit teams where their skills are most needed.

Of course, 24 hours isn’t enough time to create an entire campaign from start to finish. That’s why preparations are already underway. Since August, Professor Karen Mallia’s Creative Leadership class has been working with the selected nonprofits, conducting needs assessments and developing a creative strategy for each brand. They’re also working on promotional efforts on behalf of CreateAthon@USC, recruiting student and professional volunteers and building buzz.

They’re not the only ones hard at work. Dr. Haylee Mercado and a fall class in Sport and Entertainment Management are prepping to provide food and activities such as live music, contests, and games to keep volunteers going and creative juices flowing throughout the night. They also assist with security and safety for the event.

When the 24 hours have come to a close and eyes are still open (barely), volunteers pitch their campaigns directly to the nonprofits, who leave CreateAthon with killer concepts for their organizations. If past years are any indication, they’re shocked and awed by the magic that their volunteer teams have created, as well as the quantity and quality of work produced.

Volunteers walk into CreateAthon@USC with a positive attitude and an open mind, and leave with a portfolio builder, a resume booster, real world experience and a possible caffeine overdose — so say nothing of that warm-and-fuzzy-feeling that comes from doing genuine good for others.