Advice for Advertising Work Placements

The Dean bigadminjobs | February 23, 2013

Posted in Blog

After a year in the SCA studio, our students get about six months of work placements in top advertising agencies.  Their goal is to learn as much as they can, make as many great contacts as possible and, of course, get that first big job.   We invited students who joined us in 2011 to reflect on their journey and to share some valuable advice.

 

Advice for Work Placement Teams

 

Martin Headon and Olly Wood had placements at Rapier, AMV BBDO and Dare before joining BMB.   We asked them to share their story.

NAME OF AGENCY:  Rapier

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Olly)   Be proactive. Have the confidence to say hello to people, to ask for briefs and also just talking to people (even if it may be in the pub after work). This helps your network grow, you meet great people and learn a whole lot of stuff (even if you’re still in the pub).

(Martin)  That you can work 2 solid days on a pitch only for someone to decide a different direction is needed, so you just have to put all that work in a big pile, never to be seen or used again.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Olly)   I would have worked on ideas for clients that we had not been briefed on, and had anything come up that would have been worth showing, I would have shown it.

(Martin)  I would have tried to make more contacts outside the creative departments, with the planners and account handlers – they can be just as important to you when you’re on a brief hunt.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  AMV BBDO

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:  

(Olly)   No matter how dull the brief sounds, magical work can come out of it. Believe.

(Martin)  That a large agency can still have an incredibly friendly, courteous, and helpful culture. And that you can be the most awarded ECD around and still have time to talk to and advise young creatives.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Olly)   Work on clients without even being briefed. To add to this note, we have a placement team at BMB who did just that and they’re having some fantastic ‘topical’ ads made. Hint hint.

(Martin)   I wouldn’t have arranged to be there during Cannes Week while most of the creatives were away, but then again we didn’t have much of a choice.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Dare

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:   

(Olly)   The most important thing we learn’t was probably how to collaborate and work with a planner to build a presentation deck.

(Martin)  That agency summer parties can get very, very messy.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Olly)   If I were to turn back time and repeat the placement I would have most certainly asked for a couple of briefs to work on whilst working up the pitch document. Or at least to have floating around my head to think about on the tube ride home.

(Martin)   I wouldn’t have taken Olly to Nandos when he was clearly too drunk to understand chicken, or cutlery.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  BMB  (HIRED!!)

WHAT GOT US THE JOB:  

(Olly)   What got us the job at BMB other than winning a few awards I’d like to think was the book we had put together. It wasn’t traditional, we had innovative work, work that moved on traditional ways, we had work where we’d created miniature social movements, where we had made things in the real world, we didn’t just have ideas scribbled on paper. We had campaigns that didn’t take themselves too seriously and work that made people laugh. A mixture of stuff that got across our personalities.

(Martin)   Winning D&AD Student Of The Year obviously had a large part in it – Trevor Beattie approached us after the awards ceremony and invited us to come in and see him. But I think it helped that our portfolio was not only creative but also showed mature work that could have plausibly run. Also, we put personal projects in our portfolio that demonstrated creative thinking outside the walls of SCA.

 

Jess Mallett and Charlie Bowden had placements at Edelman PR, Billington Cartmell, Karmarama and McCann before joining being given a job at McCann.   This is what they had to say.
NAME OF AGENCY:  Edelman PR

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Jess)   Because there wasn’t a creative director, we had to crit our own ideas – which I think was a really good lesson.

(Charlie)  To be self critical, leaving time to come back and review ideas.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Jess)   Perhaps seen if there were any opportunities to go and see some PR stunts at the execution stage.

(Charlie)   I suppose it’d be to follow things up after we left. There were a few ideas that might have been taken forward but got lost in the ether a little and now we’re not too sure what happened to them.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Billington Cartmell

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Jess)   The importance of keeping a positive attitude and being pro-active.

(Charlie)   Keep yourself motivated. Don’t stop going out for book crits and meetings while you’re on placement and if there’s a lull in the work at the agency don’t be afraid of working on your book.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Jess)   Created work for some of the agency’s brands unprompted, in order to keep busy.

(Charlie)    I may have tried to change things sooner.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Karmarama

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Jess)   Even though we were only there briefly, we tried to leave a good impression. We went back for a book crit a few weeks later (which we sorted out off the back of our brief placement), and were offered another month at a later date.

(Charlie)   Get out of the office at lunch if you can, you might see something. I saw a jewellery shop that had just been robbed, there were police everywhere.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Jess)   Stolen the plastic llama. Also, I wish I’d introduced myself to more people.

(Charlie)   Tried to stay longer or get there sooner. I’d also liked to have worked on a larger variety of projects while we were there.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  McCann London (HIRED!!)

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Jess)   You have to be somewhere that has lots of opportunities, keeps you busy and has people who are willing to teach you. If you’re not happy, that will be reflected in the work.

(Charlie)   Work your effing ass off.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Jess)   Purchased some Pro-Plus beforehand.

(Charlie)    I’m not sure, there are always going to be “what if’s…” but they hired us, so that’s cool.

WHAT GOT US THE JOB:

(Charlie)   I don’t like to speculate, they said we were useful, I don’t know what that means but they said it was a good thing. I hope it doesn’t mean were too safe.

 

Jon Farley and Alex Lucas had placements at Albion, CHI, DDB and Fallon before joining becoming the first team hired at Adam+Eve DDB.   This is their feedback;

NAME OF AGENCY:  Albion

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

Before presenting ideas in a review, take a little time to explain them in writing. Sometimes what’s clear in your head doesn’t sound clear when you try to articulate it for the first time. When you try to write it down, sometimes you realize that your idea doesn’t make sense at at all. Better to find out before the review than in it!

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?:

Not have been so nervous presenting ideas for the first time.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  CHI

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

If there’s a pitch on, try and get involved with it. If you can help solve a problem on it they will be more likely to remember you.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Tried harder to get time with the ECD

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  DDB

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

Your best stuff comes after the point at which you think have no more ideas

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Tried harder to get time with the ECD

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Fallon

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

Keep in close contact with your CD as opposed to taking the brief away and then coming back for the review.

Briefs sometimes change and it’s good to get regular feedback on your ideas as you go along.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Don’t be afraid to talk to senior people when you’re struggling.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Adam+Eve DDB (HIRED!!)

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

If you think things are going well, don’t be afraid to ask for a job!

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Use the traffic managers to find out what work you can do pro-actively.

 

Tom Houser went to MySpace with Laura to help with the relaunch.  They were both offered a job, which Laura took.  But Tom decided to take a placement with Havas in Chicago, and ended up getting a job there.  Here he is with some fabulous insights;

NAME OF AGENCY:  MySpace

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

There’s no right way of doing anything. Got a better idea? Don’t just remonstrate, demonstrate.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Been even more ambitious – Laura and I left school with quite a few offers, and chose Myspace. They provided a decent wage, a proper work space for us and the opportunity to basically invent the creative department, we did huge amounts in 6 months and Laura is still there doing fantastic work (having been promoted!)

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Havas Chicago (Hired!!)

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

To speak up and stand out – being an intern shouldn’t stop you coming up with the winning work. It doesn’t matter who the client is, the boss you have, what medium you use or where in the world you are, always aim to make an effing great idea

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

After three months as ‘a copywriter’ I asked my CCO if I could switch to be ‘an art director’ – he made the sign of the cross, anointed me an art director then told me he didn’t care what I called myself as long as I kept producing good shit. Jason Peterson (the CCO) brought me over to the states and allowed me to produce the best work i’ve done so far, if I could turn back time I would have worried less about my role and just done more.

 

Nathan Holley and Sophie Hughes applied to join BBH Barn, they did amazingly well whilst there and have stayed ever since.  They tell their story;

NAME OF AGENCY:  BBH (Hired!!  On a 3-Month rolling contract)

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

Work hard, have fun and be nice to people.

We’ve also found that being able to craft work quickly, yet still to a high standard is essential. You work to other people’s time, rather than your own, and you have to be prepared to leave your comfort zone and let go of any sort of perfectionism, just to get good work out

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

We could have potentially taken on more briefs in our first three months. It’s a catch 22 situation though; you want to impress as many CD’s as possible by taking on more work, but then your other work drops a level when you try to do more, as you spend a lot of your time juggling things rather than focussing on solving just one brief or problem.

 

Simon Jensen and Joanne Scaife have had placements at Billington Cartmell. RAPP, POSSIBLE, Glue Isobar and Atomic London.  They share some damned good advice;

NAME OF AGENCY:  Billington Cartmell

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

We learned the process of how to develop and present our ideas in a professional environment. We’re not students anymore, and there are certain ways to do things. Look around at how people work and present their ideas, this will give you a good idea of what is expected of you.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Made sure we were clear on exactly what we were asked to do for every brief at the start. We were very much used to coming up with big, top level ideas, but in the real world, not every brief calls for that. We should’ve clarified exactly what output was required before running headlong into concepts.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  RAPP

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

It’s not all about work, work, work; great people can make an agency a fantastic place to be. Join in with the culture, go for drinks, socialise, and enjoy time with the people around you. If you integrate and become a part of the agency, then you’re much more likely, to actually become a part of the agency.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

We should’ve been even more proactive in periods of downtime. If you don’t have a brief, get one, or even create your own for a client they have. It may never get anywhere, but it certainly shows eagerness and initiative.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  POSSIBLE

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

Give the client more than they ask for. If the brief just calls for digital executions, think of how it can also extend into experiential etc… As long as you tick the boxes and give them what they ask for, any other idea is a welcome bonus. You never know, it just might impress them enough to get put through.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

We should have followed up on all the projects that we had worked on. Sometimes in a busy office, smaller projects can get forgotten and left on the side, in favour of the juicer briefs. If you have done the work, then make sure you follow it through and arrange for them to be put in front of your CD.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Glue Isobar

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

How to work within restrictions. Bigger clients are great to work on, but as they have to manage their brand carefully, they can be cautious about what they buy or take forward. Try not to censor your ideas at all, but attempt to look at the work from the client’s view, this may give you a different perspective on the brief.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Made arrangements to talk to more of the teams. As things were busy, we worked closely with some teams but never really got to chat to others. We should have asked to join them for lunch or even taken them out for a beer.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Atomic London

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you’re given opportunity and responsibility. Being solely responsible for many of our briefs, it really let us feel the pressure, but also the sense of achievement when the client took on our concepts. Work hard, love the pressure, and embrace each project as if your job depended on it.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Made it impossible for them to ever let us leave. Done more side projects, walked the floor more and made them say “What are we going to do when they go?”

 

Rosie Lewis and Danielle Mensah have enjoyed placements at Kastner & Partners, LBi, POSSIBLE, Edelman and OgilvyOne. This is their great feedback;

NAME OF AGENCY:  Kastner & Partners

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

Our biggest learning was that we can independently motivate ourselves to get work completed.  

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

If we could turn back time we would have not felt that we needed to be at our desks all day.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  LBi

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

 It is important to be willing to get involved in everything – even if it is not typical creative work.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

We would have proactively searched for more work. 

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  POSSIBLE

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

We have learned to be more confident in our ideas and abilities. To be forthright when have an opinion on any work even if it is not our own and to always ask ourselves, ‘ could I have done more?’

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

If we could turn back time we would have originally come in with confidence in ourselves. No one is going to believe your ideas are great if you are not sure yourself.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Edelman

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

We learnt that we want to work in an agency that can utilise our skills.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

If we could turn back time we would have made sure to be there when Ryan (who is spearheading the creative input) was there.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  OgilvyOne

MOST VALUABLE THING WE LEARNED THERE:

How important placements are at showing you how agencies operate from the inside.

WHAT WOULD WE HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Ask more questions, if in doubt.

 

Alice Ratcliffe and Ellen Rose have had placements with Jack Morton, Billington Cartmell, Dare, Workclub, Elvis and CHI&Partners.  They share their feedback below;

NAME OF AGENCY:  Jack Morton

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Alice)   The effort you put into presenting the idea will be key in getting the client to buy into it.

(Ellen)   We went to Jack Morton knowing that the type of work they do, which is B to B brand experience, wasn’t what we dreamed of doing. However if haven’t tried it I wouldn’t actually be able to say for sure that Brand experience isn’t the type of work I like to do. So lesson learned – try a lot of different agencies. It only makes more sure about where you really dream of going!

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Alice)   Insisted “Creative Wednesdays” happened every week.

(Ellen)   Perhaps tried to come up with some Above the line ideas for their clients and convince the director to pitch them…

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Billington Cartmell

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Alice)   Ask, ask and ask again if you want more work.

(Ellen)  If you really feel like you’re wasting time, stop the placement, don’t spend your energy wrong.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Alice)    Asked more.

(Ellen)   I would have left half way through the placement and spend some weeks going to book crits instead.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Dare

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Alice)   How to turn ideas into stories.

(Ellen)  Be social even if it feels awkward the first time, it makes it more fun. Keep asking for more -work.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Alice)   Chained myself to the desk and refused to leave.

(Ellen)   I would try to be more prepared every time I show an idea to a senior team. It’s like a little pitch every time.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Workclub

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Alice)   I learned a lot here. One piece that stands out is to always ask yourself “why the f**k would they bother?” It helps me avoid churning out pointless interactive ideas.

(Ellen)  When working with online ideas keep asking your self – would I interact? Would I really do this?? If not, then no one else probably wouldn’t either.

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Alice)  Built some of the ideas we had ourselves.

(Ellen)  Be braver suggest more crazy ideas. It’s a place where there is space for them.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  Elvis

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Alice)   Keep going, even when you think you hit the wall you eventually break through. We had to keep rewriting the same lines for a week. It felt frustrating at the time but it was worth it when we got there.

(Ellen)  If your CD keeps you on the same brief for week after week, and you are asking for more stuff, he’s testing you

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Alice)  Gone on more Christmas pub trips. They’re a great way of getting to know the agency better.

(Ellen)  Try to come up with ideas for their clients without being given a brief.

 

NAME OF AGENCY:  CHI&Partners

MOST VALUABLE THING I LEARNED THERE:

(Alice)   We’re working hard at distilling ideas into print. Alongside that having to put our work up against other teams beautiful scamps makes us work harder to perfect our own style.

(Ellen)   Read the proposition 1000 times and then ask yourself if you agree or not. Always try to find a true insight

WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

(Alice)  If I could turn back time I would always do more.