Monday, 29 April 2013

Bye Bye AdGrads, hello AdMISSION...

Bye bye, all. See you at the Ad-Mission...

Hello, everyone.

This is quite a hard post to write. 

I (Will) have written AdGrads for about five and a half years now - and, to get to the point, AdGrads is moving to become part of the IPA's graduate recruitment blog, the AdMission

Initially, AdGrads was begun by the four of us. Myself, Anton Reyniers, Alex Jena and Sam Ismail. The blog was originally meant to stand as a counterpoint to the dearth of Advertising advice out there. The IPA had a good fact file on agencies, but there was nothing out there that *really* showcased what life was like when getting in as a graduate.

The seeds were sown when my blog (‘Confessions of a Wannabe Ad Man’, now living here, and still being updated, happily) and Anton & Sam’s blog (‘Ad Lads’) seemed to have the same, underlying purpose - to document what the first steps in Advertising were really like.

People sometimes asked us, ‘have you ever accepted any money for blogging?’ And, I’m pleased to say that no, no-one at AdGrads has. We have always written and posted help and advice because it was the right thing to do. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the blog has had an obvious upside for us - AdGrads has always believed that by helping people out, it’ll benefit the agency sector and help us out when we’re more senior. More bright people equals better work, which in turn, equals better place/s to work - places that aren’t staffed by nepotism and privilege, which was one of the big driving forces behind AdGrads’ inception.

What’s more, over the past few years, I’m pleased to say the blog’s helped a lot of people and agencies recruit and be recruited - examples that range from helping Leo Burnett with their revamped graduate scheme to writing for The Guardian. Personally, as I’ve become the sole writer of the blog, I’ve met a whole lot of bright, vivacious, interesting people who will be the agency stars of the future. I hope, in some small way, that AdGrads has helped them.

Finally, and most encouragingly, I’m delighted to say that as Sam, Alex, Anton and myself became busier and less able to contribute as much as we did back in 2007, the IPA have really stepped up their efforts to help provide different perspectives about how to get into the business. Recent IPA presidencies have made graduate recruitment a priority, which is utterly brilliant.

With that in mind, the IPA have launched the AdMission. You can read more about it here. I (Will) will be writing there periodically - and it'll use 'the best of AdGrads' to help add to its content; however, more to the point, there will be another generation of AdGrads who will be writing about their adventures in the business. Anton, Alex, Sam and myself are now more removed from graduate experiences, and, given that we have less time, it’s good, right and appropriate for the next generation to step up. I wish them all the luck in the world. 

Read what they have to say here - the Ad-Mission should be your first point of call for graduate recruitment queries.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. The blog won’t be deleted (even if I wanted to delete it, I’m not the admin - Sam is, and I’ve not been in touch with him for a while); it will still provide a useful resource for those searching for ‘AdGrads’. Similarly, the twitter account will remain, but I’d urge those who follow it to follow the IPA/Ad-Mission twitter account.  

P.P.S. If, for some reason or another, you’d like to meet for some graduate advice, I’m more than happy to meet for a coffee before work. Email me at william.humphrey [AT] 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Some practical advice...

Borrowed from here. Usual rules apply. 

I thought that it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about something most graduate schemes (and indeed, the industry) seem to neglect. The practical side.

For those of you who don’t live in the South East of the country, getting into Advertising - (or, at the very least, getting some work experience so you can make your mind up) seems doubly tricky; because a) You don’t know anyone in London or have anyone you can stay with and b) Most of the graduate schemes or work experience programmes are closed/you’ve not heard anything back from those few emails you sent to a general email address most agencies offer.

Before I go on, I do know there are agencies outside of London. Of course. There are many fine agencies in Manchester or Birmingham.  But, given that the bulk of agencies are in London (and London is what I have experience of, as a West Midlander who wanted to work in London), that’s what this blog post will concern itself with. The same, general rules apply for any big city, I think - whether it’s within Blighty or the US.

Right. There are two flavours of practical advice you need to concern yourself with, which I’ll outline below:

1) Proving that you know about/want a career in Advertising

Over the past six odd years, I have met a lot of people who have seemingly done everything right - they have a good degree, have already made in-roads into meeting people in Advertising and may even run their University or College’s Marketing/Advertising student club.

Despite this, they haven’t been able to get in. I’m afraid (and I had to learn this the hard way) that there’s a gap between being academically adept and getting into the industry. This puts a lot of bright people off, chiefly because they’ve been used to getting good marks and simply progressing. ‘Getting in’ is not an empirical thing. There isn’t a magic route. Some people are simply fortunate by getting in via their first interview. Others, like me, have had to have a year or so getting work experience, living at home and saving money before they finally succeeded.

That said (and I don’t wish to hector or belabour the point), there are definitely short cuts you can use.

I did several things to prove that I knew about and really wanted a career in Advertising. I blogged, showcased my situation and my thinking and tried to connect, via twitter, with a wider number of Ad-folk. There wasn’t one magic, ‘eureka’ moment. It all worked together to help me get into the business.

Whilst, I know, more people blog than ever nowadays (at the time, in 2005/6, ad blogs were fairly new, much less a wannabe, graduate blog), not enough grads use Slideshare to showcase their thinking/situation. Consider using it - it’ll help provide an introduction to those potential agency employers when sending those initial emails to agencies.

If you can, email a named person, not just a generic email address. A real person has responsibility. A 'wanttowork' email has very little obligation to get back in touch with you.

2) Getting to, and living in London.

This, for most, will prove to be the biggest stumbling block. You don’t need me to tell you that London is bloody expensive, and if you don’t have family members/friends living here, it seems like a right bloody faff.

It needn’t be. There are ways and means for getting down to the Big Smoke and having somewhere to live. For starters, unless you’re loaded, don’t consider a short term let. The chances are, you’ll need to be in London for a week to about six weeks, depending on what you’ve been able to get (work experience, or a summer school programme; or even just a day of graduate interviews).

Instead, consider youth hostels. Yes, I know. YOUTH HOSTELS?! If you went travelling, you probably last encountered them somewhere halfway round the world, or somewhere to be put up on a school trip. Suffice to say, neither memory is likely to be wholly positive.

I’m pleased to say that the YHA is a brilliant option. I stayed in one when I had work experience at Fallon, DLKW and Saatchi & Saatchi. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly the Ritz, but it’s good value for money and gives you breakfast, which is the important thing.

Yes, London is costly, but if you’re savvy (the Taste Card is a good shout for evening meals) and stay in the right sort of accommodation, it is affordable, no matter who you are. And, personally, it helped spur me on to do my best at my work experience to try and turn it into a full time position.

I hope that little lot helps, all.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The LSU need YOU...

They made this. They make a lot of stuff. Nicked from Almost Always Thinking. Usual rules apply.

Hello gang.

There's a new vacancy going at the LSU (the London Strategy Unit). They've been in touch with us here at AdGrads towers.

Below is the job spec. It's a fairly broad one, so there's every chance you'd be in with a chance if, like a lot of our readers, you have multiple skills and aren't sure if you're a planner, account handler or otherwise:

"We're looking for a couple of researchers, writers or journalist types to help us produce insightful and entertaining content. You'll need to be brand and business savvy as well as having a good knowledge of culture and trends.

Those without a curious mind need not apply.

If this sounds like you, and you're interested - send your CV and no more than 150 words on what makes you the right person for the job to recruitment at"

Sounds fascinating, eh? They have some of the brightest minds in the business working for them, and it would be a great move for several of you.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The final week for the IPA Ad School...

The logo looks like this. Honest.

Hello all.

Not sure if you realised this, but the IPA (the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) have an excellent summer school, and it closes at the end of this week. They've been in touch with AdGrads to get us to let you guys know about it. So, on with the show:

“This is the final week for applications for this year’s IPA Ad School, a fantastic chance to spend your summer in one of the UK’s top agencies. There are three programmes: Client Services & Planning, Creative and Search. Alongside 8 weeks of work experience, you’ll also attend weekly evening sessions from industry luminaries – a great chance to learn, ask questions and network with some seriously senior folk. Client Services & Planning and Creative students will also take part in a group project which is pitched at graduation, while Search students leave the School with two industry-respected qualifications: the IPA Search Certificate and the Google Adwords Certificate.

There are some fantastic agencies lined up – we’ve not released the full list but do a little research and you’ll see that Leo Burnett and Publicis are amongst this year’s crop. Last year over 70% of our students were offered jobs or extended placements so while there’s no guarantee, the odds are definitely in your favour.

This year’s School runs from 1st July-23rd August and is open to second-years and above, including graduates. You needn’t have any prior experience or any kind of portfolio or book; all we want from you is great ideas, bundles of enthusiasm, and lots of hard work.

Upon successful completion of the programme, students receive a prize sum (£800 for Client Services & Planning and Creative and £1,500 for Search). Travel within zones 1-2 is paid.

But don’t just take my word for it – hear from last year’s Ad School graduates.

Whether you’ve always wanted to work in advertising or whether it’s a career you’ve never considered before, the IPA Ad School is the perfect way to try the industry to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Apply now for IPA Ad School 2013; the deadline is 11:59pm on 12th April.

If you’ve any questions please email adschool at or find us on Facebook.

Good luck, all.