Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Your Greatest Weapon

My rejection letter from Saatchis.

Right. I'm totally wired right now and Firefox just crashed so I've lost what I wrote. So as I try to remember what it was that got me to write something in the first place I'll apologize because this post might make less sense than usual.

Your greatest weapon in trying to break into this industry is people telling you that you can't. It's that simple. So you can quit reading this now. Still here? Well then I better tell you a story about how I got to this conclusion.

Earlier this summer I applied for the Saatchi summer scheme. I had a totally rockingly awesome idea for the application. Note how I didn't say 'I think I had' because I know my idea was awesome. Like feel-it-in-my-bones-at-4am-even-though-I'm-totally-tired-and-wired-and-I'm-writing-this-for-the-second-time know. The sob story is here and here, but what I'm trying to tell you is that when I got the letter in the picture above I was pretty much devastated. Like I'd been kicked in the gut. By a horse. But it was the best thing that's happened to me. Honestly. Failure and rejection makes you question yourself. And the one thing most people (and I'm talking about in general here) lack is a true measure of what they're about.

Failure makes you look in the damn mirror and ask yourself 'Am I really, positively sure this is what I want to do?'. Agencies will often ask, in their application forms for a lot of effort from you. And you'll get the standard letter with your name and address mail-merged in if they don't like what you do. It's pretty soul-destroying at first. But what you need to do when it happens - and chances are it will happen to each and every one of us at some point on this graduate recruitment trail, is really use it as opportunity to re-focus. Think about why you want to do this. Why you're choosing to pursue a career in advertising. It won't be the money at this stage, no chance. Not the hours either. But each and everyone of us has a reason they want to do this. Find that reason and harness it. And use that rejection to make you a little more determined.

The people that apply to grad recruitment schemes are by and large, shit. Sorry but they are, agency staff will tell you and Campaign will tell you. That's why you'll see mostly the same faces doing the rounds come interview time. It's the truth, ask Anton and Will and JB. The people who really want careers in this industry are the ones who get them ultimately. Not the people who think having champagne for lunch in Cannes is a career because (and write this down) it's not what advertising is about now, in 2007. You might have champagne for lunch in Cannes but only after having busted your ass to get into an agency and then busted it some more to convince finance and your boss that you're worthy of blowing some cash on.

The ad industry in 2007 is, in some agencies still fighting the future and in all cases trying to figure out how to grab the attention of the person on the street in this maze of communication that is modern life. You have to want to be there.

Ultimately experience, degree subject and a thousand other things are just branches of the 'applicant desirability' tree, the trunk of that baby is desire. You have to want it. And if you do, then that pile of rejection letters will become your muse, it will drive you on. And you'll feel like writing a reply to every single one, saying 'Thank you, you've made me realize how much I want a job in this industry, how good I am going to be, and how wrong you are for not taking me on because I don't tick your boxes. Thank you'

Grad season is about to begin. When you get those rejection letters remember why you want a career in advertising. And remember, all it takes is one agency to say yes, and it won't matter how many letters you had telling you that you weren't good enough, because you'll have proved them all wrong.

1 comment:

Planners Delight said...

Stay Angry!