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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Long out of school — should I go back in order to break in?

Long out of school — should I go back in order to break in?

I am 3 years out of school and only have a 3 month intership in the marketing department of a school. I was wondering what are some things you would recommend for someone who is trying to become a copywriter after being out of school for so long. I was looking into Chicago Portfolio School. Is that school any good or even needed (not sure I will be able to afford it). What are some things I can do to break into the field if i cant afford to go back to school. Also, what are some annual competitions for advertising that I may be able to enter.

intro Long out of school — should I go back in order to break in?If you don’t have a strong portfolio, your key to employment, it’s worth considering going to a portfolio school. You haven’t explained what your education was up to this point. If you’re at square one, with no copywriting studies, there are no short cuts—you have a lot to learn. Entering annual competitions is a ways off. Do your homework on schools—search schools in locations you can afford to get to, and look for some signs you’ve found a good one (most schools have poor instructors too long out of the business, and don’t truly prepare you to get a job. Shocking but true.) You should look at the student work (Not on their site? Not a good sign). Look at where their alumni have landed jobs, and at the student competition results (most of the major awards shows have competitions just for students). Look at the credentials of the teaching staff (best are still working in the business at respected agencies). Ideally, contact some alumni for their stories. It’s a big decision, an investment (worth a loan, if that’s possible, to attend the right school). Good luck.

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  • Allison Baxley

    I was in a similar situation when I graduated with my good-for-nothing Bachelor degree from a respectable university in Texas. Toward the end of my undergraduate coursework, I realized that I had no portfolio or creative work and that I’d need to attend portfolio school if I wanted to be an art director. After extensive research, I decided Chicago Portfolio School was the right choice for me. 

    It’s a great school, especially for people who already have a 4-year degree. You don’t have to retake “Marketing 101″ or any other class that your degree presumably covered. This school is a 1-year program that focuses on building your book in the shortest time possibly so you can stop making fake ads and start working for the agencies you’ve been admiring for so long. 

    I finished Chicago Portfolio School in 2006 when it was still young and up and coming. Even then, they taught me the basics of building a portfolio that would get me a job. I recently had the privilege of returning to teach a workshop to current students and was amazed at the opportunities those students have now that I did not. It was a good school when I went there and an even better school now. I would highly recommend it.

    You can put a book together without the help of portfolio school. It’s hard, but not impossible. But if you decide to shell out the money after having earned an undergraduate degree, I would say Chicago Portfolio School is a great choice!


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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