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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  From client side to copywriting: ad school, straight to work or another path?

From client side to copywriting: ad school, straight to work or another path?

Dear Jancy,
I sincerely hope you can help and request that you please bear with my somewhat complex dual-layer question.
I’ve been working in London as a client-side MarComs Exec for 3 years now and over the past year have slowly been getting more and more consumed with the idea of being an ad copywriter.
I’ve got an MA in Literature, love words and books and I’ve dabbled a bit in film production and fine art while studying too. My understanding of copywriting seems to incorporate all of these disparate creative interests perfectly, so I’ve got a good feeling that this is the industry for me.
The first part of my question is, how do begin the process of putting together a book? I have a lot of copywriting samples to my name but these are more marketing collateral than anything else and would definitely not be enough for a book that might get me hired by an agency, even at junior level.
I like the thought of being properly trained in the craft by doing a Ad/Copy Masters but all of the ones I have looked at ask for a portfolio, which sends me back to square one.
To make things more complicated, I am hoping to move to Vancouver in the near future as my other half lives there.
This leads to the second part of my question – having put a decent book together with your advice, do i:
a) apply to an ad school in London (I have been seriously looking at Watford College) or Van (if there is one) and angle for a job in a Van shop afterwards
b) apply directly to a Van shop (and hope that they will take me despite not having any agency experience)
c) aim for a short placement in a London agency for experience then try my luck in a Van shop
I’m open to the idea of going to ad school not in either London or Van too, if that would improve my chances. From reading other posts on here I know that VCU Brand Center and San Fran come highly recommended.
All advice and suggestions truly appreciated. Thanks!

intro From client side to copywriting: ad school, straight to work or another path?We think you can rule out getting work at any agency without a book or copywriting experience. You need to go to school to create a portfolio. There are no short cuts (at least, not for most people). You don’t need a portfolio to get into an ad program. You have plenty of passion and good experience that will help you get admission to the right school, whether in London, Vancouver or elsewhere. Research schools and find a program with evidence of excellence (there are a lot more poor schools than great ones). Look for excellent student work, well qualified instructors (still working in the industry), awards in major student competitions and alumni with great jobs. Once you identify a short list, a helpful extra step would be talking to grads about their experience. From one academic year to the next, a good school can slide (great teachers leave, for instance), or vice versa, so it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re getting a current picture. Good luck, wherever you go. Love that you’re pursuing your passion.

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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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