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Sneaking into creative through accounts or media


I’m a student at a Toronto college where for the first two years of the program, everybody learns about everything. In the final year, you are allowed to “stream” into the area that interests you most: Creative, Account Services or Media Planning & Buying. The final semester is supposed to be an internship you find yourself, using the talent and skills you’ve developed over the years. Instantly, all the Media students are snapped up and put into paid internships or jobs. Account services aren’t so lucky as to find PAID internship, but they still have a pretty easy time finding a placement.
THEN there us creatives. Most of us have been pounding the pavement since September for an unpaid internship for this January, and almost none of us have landed one. And this is for the chance to work FOR FREE. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to look for a paying job! Fortunately i DID eventually find one, but the search was long and agonizing, especially for free labour.
My question is this: I did extremely well in my accounts and media studies, and I know I could find a job in those fields far easier than in any creative department. I’ve heard of a few creatives taking the sneaky route and getting a media or accounts job, and shortly after they arrive, expressing their true desires. Is this pretty common from what you’ve seen? Is it accepted? Frowned upon? They’re already on the payroll, and everybody in the Creative Department already knows them, why not?

intro Sneaking into creative through accounts or mediaWith only one year of education towards becoming a “creative”, I’m not that surprised you wouldn’t get too far, even with an unpaid internship. Your competition has spent much more time learning how to get there, and have way better books to show for it. Even unpaid internships mean a certain amount of effort for an agency; they generally will put the effort into helping someone who shows a great deal of promise, evident in their book. Your book is still, by defintion, embryonic.

“Sneaking in” through a different door, and attempting to switch teams later, is a reasonable strategy for you. That would suggest you glom onto people in the creative department and try to learn something from them. We’ve seen a few spectacular examples of this at Ogilvy: Angus Tucker, CD at John St., and Peter Ignazi at Downtown Partners (he just watched his Bud Light spot run on the Superbowl yesterday) were both suits. Arthur Shah, a group CD at Leo Burnett, worked in our accounting department before breaking into the creative department as a writer. They all had passion and commitment to their goals. If you have same, you could take your brief education and get to your goal, too.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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