This summer I worked at two London advertising agencies, CHI&Partners and M&CSaatchi. I spent two weeks at each firm, which is the standard length of their work experience programmes. Although two weeks doesn’t seem long, I was surprised by how much was packed into that time.
Having gone through the application process of answering questions such as, ‘What is your favourite ad and why?’, and ‘Attach a picture that best describes you and describe why’ my best piece of advice when filling out application forms would have to be, be yourself. Particularly in the world of advertising, I have learned that they really want to know what you think and that is what makes you valuable. They don’t ask these questions to be awkward (although it certainly felt that way at times), it is just a way to get to know your style of thinking.
Although there were elements of the classic work experience story (i.e. getting to know the photocopier fairly well), this came alongside a myriad of fun, random, and challenging tasks. Despite being part of the account management team I was called on from different sections of the agencies such as the creative team, and in the case of M&CSaatchi their digital team LIDA, making my tasks more varied.
The specifics of what I worked on will have to be limited as signing a confidentiality agreement is one of the first things I was asked to do upon arrival. However, the tasks I completed ranged from typing up transcripts from focus groups, to running errands for photo shoots, to completing competitor reports for accounts held by the company, and at one point calculating the circumference of the 26th floor of the Gherkin.
When it came to office wardrobe I was instructed to wear smart casual. A concept which is most girls’ worst nightmare; does anyone actually know what that means? The first few days at each office I was dressed a little smarter than I needed to be, although this is the side of the fence I would prefer to be on in this situation. However, after getting the lay of the land, it was clear that I didn’t need to wear my pencil skirt every day and there was a clear opportunity for wearing your own style, as long as it was work appropriate.
Working in London was certainly a change from what I am used to, living in a town at home which is comparable to St. Andrews (I moved from one bubble to another). Even though rush hour on the tube, especially in the heat wave that struck when I was there, was less than pleasant, being in London was definitely a highlight.
As a career in advertising is what I am aiming for after the completion of my degree, getting experience at two different firms was more important than I thought it would be. As the placements were only two weeks long I was looking to fill the long summer and was therefore pleased to be able to work for two different firms. However, what this meant was that I was able to compare the styles of the companies. While at both I felt extremely welcomed there was definitely a different atmosphere in each office. By working at both I got a feel for the sort of firm that I would prefer to work for when the time comes to it.
Images compiled by Kerri P.