It could even be this guy (though he's a videogame Samurai character).
It's been a little while since I sat down and actually wrote a post for AdGrads, beyond job openings. Sorry about that - the day job's been rather busy since I started in October.
Anyway, I thought i'd write a little post about mentors and mentorship, and why they/it are the most important thing for your impending career (or even if you're a year or so in).
Though it's in the annals of the AdGrads' first year, I thought I'd explain a little bit about how I came to get into the industry.
I'm actually very fortunate. My father worked in the business, in the Midlands. So, I grew up knowing quite a lot about Advertising. At least, how the industry worked outside of London in the 90's, at any rate. And, being aware of the history of certain agencies, something that I think most graduates could benefit from - so as to not repeat some of the mistakes of the past/to learn from what's gone before.
So, if you like, my first mentor was my Dad. I still call him whenever I have a big career decision to make, and he always proffers a thought through opinion. Being an ex-client too helps.
Moving on then, I initially found it tricky to get into the business (and this, in truth, is how AdGrads came to be - borne of frustration), and relied on my Dad a lot for his opinion and support.
I also began to blog - before AdGrads was and is my 'other' blog, Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man, that's been around since mid 2006. Not only did it enable me to show off my thinking, it also, more importantly, helped me meet people in the business who I'm still friends with today.
One of them, Richard Huntington (now CSO of Saatchi & Saatchi), gave me my first planning job. We're still very good friends today, and still talk about career stuff/life/the Universe, and so on. He (and others) provided me with an up to date appreciation of what the business is about. He's been invaluable to me when I've had tricky decisions to make.
Before my experiences with mentor figures (and there's more than just Richard and my father, but that's just a flavour), I tended to have more of an academic approach to learning about the modern communication business - reading Campaign, key books (Truth, Lies & Advertising, amongst others) and so on. That's not wrong, but what's better - reading about it second hand (and, undoubtedly realising about half of the graft that's gone on) or talking to someone who does it day in and day out?
Now, getting in contact with these 'mentors' is difficult, I must admit - particularly if you aren't from London or the South East. But it's not impossible. The web is a tremendous tool, and if you can email people for a coffee before their day begins, or pique their interest with a thought through opinion or piece of work online - you'll be much closer to getting in.
And, one final thing - don't ever stop meeting people. You'll find new mentors for yourself along with becoming a de-facto 'mentor' for new people. And you never know when one or the other will come in handy. I'm not saying 'be a tart', but instead, be open and willing to meet people if they need your help when you're a year or two into the business. You never know who you'll end up working with, or even, perhaps, running an agency with.
Let me know what you think - I'm happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments.