By Philippa Baines
7 things I learnt from Portfolio Day
It seemed like the peak of the SCA mountain when I first started. Now it’s passed, Portfolio Day feels like milestone rather than an uphill battle. All the stress was unjustified and I’d actually say it was one of the funnest days of the year. Here are seven things I’ve learnt from the experience.
- Some people will ‘get’ your work, others might not, both are ok
You cannot please everyone. From one agency you’re likely to meet three different people with three different interpretations of your work. Listen and digest all criticism. But remember why you got into advertising and not to cut everything because one person said they didn’t like it. Stay true to yourself whilst making sure you’re taking on board important advice. Then develop, develop, develop.
- Surprise and delight
My Dad used to work in Marketing and had lots of hilarious jargon he’d like to use in the context of life. ‘Surprise and delight’ was one of them. Ultimately, you are a product and you’re trying to sell yourself. In terms of your stand, do something that will grab their attention and make your audience (ECDs) react positively. We did personalised mini wine bottles, Jono had a cool VR game next to his desk, Zoe and Holly made an amazing mini-magazine to read on the way home. Whatever you choose. Just surprise and delight. And Keep It Simple Stupid.
- Don’t over think your stand
I wanted to make sandalwood infused towels and give them to mentors on sitting down with us. (A relic of working in travel to Southeast Asia.) Melina thought this might be too much and hindsight – yes it totally was. You have 20 minutes with another human being, don’t be ridiculous.
- Hi-jack in a more creative way (practice)
On portfolio day, lots of people like to hijack the poster space on the way up to school with self-promotional material. What was an intelligent thing to do was to find another space where fewer people were competing for attention – like Becky and Sarah. They plastered the women’s bathroom in their names, which meant I actually read their contact details. In hindsight maybe my partner Melina and I should have made a floor sticker for the stairs up, or done something with the entrance of the building. Ultimately, there’s more to advertising yourself than filling up a staircase with posters.
- This is just another day in your career
Portfolio day is just another opportunity to get a book crit. Something you’ve been doing twice (or thrice!) weekly for the past four months. ECDs are not going to be nasty or even more critical as it’s one of the final portfolio days. They’re here to do what they’ve always done which is bring on you and your book. There’s no need to be scared Philippa. No need to be scared.
- Offer advice on other people’s books
In the lulls between crits, I’ve found portfolio day a great time to share ideas on classmates’ books. It’s easy to hunker down and focus on your own work. It’s more helpful, though, to give yourself a break and be inspired by other people. This advice is relevant all the time really, not just for portfolio day.
- Ask questions about the agency!
I didn’t ask many questions to agencies on portfolio day. Maybe it’s more relevant to ask these once you know they’ve offered you a placement. But still, it’s important things to think about on Portfolio Day. Here are a few I wrote down:
- What’s a typical day like for a placement team?
- How involved will we be on live projects?
- How much contact will we have with you (ECD)?
- How do you nurture your placement teams whilst they’re with you?
- How long is your typical placement?
- Are there any other placement teams with you?
Finally, feel happy with yourself. I’ve found it hard to do this as I’ve been so tired and nothing is ever perfect. Working every weekend before Portfolio Day takes it out of you. But take a moment to breathe and relax for a moment. As you’ve done it. Well done!