You’re at a standard house party in London, lets be original and say it’s happening in the extended university halls of residence that is Clapham. You’re 22 and you have completed the first few months of your advertising graduate scheme. You are making predictably banal conversation with a relatively attractive male/female and soon you are asked what your job is. “I work in advertising,” you say. “Oh ok, so you’re in charge of creating the ideas and stuff?” he/she replies. Well, not exactly. Explaining what it is you exactly do on your graduate scheme is never easy, whether that is to your Mum or friends, but if you are thinking about applying to one, you must make absolutely certain that it’s the right career for you.
The best piece of advice I can give anyone applying to an advertising graduate scheme is make sure you know everything conceivable about the role you are applying for. The first port of call is relatively obvious. Read voraciously. There is no excuse not to be extremely well versed in what your job is likely to entail. For aspiring account men, go to your local bookshop and pick up “Confessions of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy and for planners get “Truth, Lies and Advertising” by Jon Steel. Both of these books give invaluable insights. Supplement this reading by reading the trade press like Campaign and as many blogs as you can handle.
Advertising is a fascinating job. You are paid to come in everyday and try to help create the best creative product possible. What could be better? However, like any job there are things that can be difficult. At times the hours can be long and the work can be relentless. Make sure you speak to someone in the industry. More than books or blogs, they will be able to give you the best insight into their day to day lives. They will tell you about the incredible highs and the inevitable lows.
If you want to work in advertising, make sure you really love adverts. This could sound patronising and I hope it doesn’t, but people who apply to graduate schemes can lose sight of what they actually intend to do for a living. I have sat in interviews with people who are unable to talk about their favourite campaign. They simply weren’t interested enough. Get yourself excited, whether that is Old Spice’s hilarious viral campaign or the beauty of a Guinness advert. You spend a lot of your day working, so make sure it is something you love.