On Wednesday I attended a Digital media and Advertising seminar organised as part of Edinburgh University’s Creative and Cultural Careers fair 2016. This event aimed to give students an insight into a career in the creative industries of marketing and advertising and offer advice on how to get a foot in the door in this highly competitive marketplace.
The talk was structured as a panel discussion followed by an audience question and answer session. The expert panel was comprised of a brand manager, two senior partners of leading advertising agencies in Edinburgh, a newly freelance brand consultant and the owner of a leading Scottish digital marketing firm.
As I am currently undertaking a work experience placement within a creative agency I felt I was in a privileged position in terms of already understanding the day-to-day workings of such a firm. The insights from the panel rang true with everything I have been learning and I felt lucky to be in the position that I am in terms of gaining invaluable experience. The event was very informative and I wanted to write about some of the key take-away messages.
One thing that struck me about the panel was the very different ways that each of their careers had evolved. The variations in their career beginnings and progressions to where they are now indicated the scope and variety of different roles which exist in the creative industries. The panel encouraged us to think carefully about where our personal skills lie when applying for different jobs. We were reminded of the importance of finding the right role for you and of how it is very difficult to do a job well that you are neither prepared for – in terms of skills – or that you do not enjoy.
What was a common feature across all panelists was the sense of passion they conveyed when talking about what they did and working within the industry. There was general consensus that a degree in marketing is not a necessary requirement for a career in this area. Panelists emphasised that, whilst grades and a degree subject are important, they only form a small part of the picture of an individual and there are many other things, such as creativity and personality, involved when assessing whether a job applicant is right for a role. This was a nice reminder to those of us caught up in the pressure cycle of essays and exams. This industry seeks people who want to communicate and innovate and such skills are demonstrated in ways beyond a degree classification.
Some key general points from the panel:
- Being able to apply the methodologies practiced in obtaining your degree will often be more important than the subject studied itself.
- This is a major growth industry and generations Y and Z are in a privileged position in that we have grown up and evolved alongside technology.
- This industry seeks creative individuals who do more than the minimum. People who seek creative opportunities to experiment and grow.
- A very important part of this work is understanding what makes people tick and what engages them emotionally.
Some tips regarding finding work in this industry and the Interview process:
- It is important to be able to demonstrate your passion by articulating an understanding of branding and engaging with peoples emotions.
- In an interview you must be prepared to demonstrate an understanding of the industry and be able to say what you like and why. Being able to reference campaigns you found engaging and explain why that was in more complex terms that just ‘its funny’ is a good starting point.
- Give expansive, but reasonable answers. i.e find the balance between giving full and interesting answers and not talking too much!
- Be prepared for the typically challenging questions such as what has been your biggest achievement, what sets you apart from the other candidates, what has been your biggest mistake in a workplace and how did you overcome it.