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Interview: Helen Limbrey, IPA Ad School

Advertising, Marketing & PR

Finding new creative talent is essential in the advertising world. And for graduates, finding employment within that world can often be tricky – the competition for jobs is fierce. The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) Ad School is a chance for agencies to connect early with fresh, driven talent, helping graduates learn more about the industry and to experience life in an agency. To find out more, we spoke to Helen Limbrey, who works for the IPA and helps run the Ad School.

What is the Ad School and who is it for?
adschool-2013The Ad School is an 8 week summer placement programme in some of the UK’s top advertising and marcomms agencies. There are three programmes: Client Services & Planning, Creative and Search. Alongside the 8 weeks of work experience, students also attend weekly evening sessions from industry luminaries – a great chance to learn, ask questions and network with some seriously senior industry folk.  In addition, Client Services & Planning and Creative students work on a group project which is pitched at graduation, while Search students complete the IPA Search Certificate and the Google Adwords Fundamentals Exam.

This year’s School runs from 1st July – 23rd August. Upon successful completion of the programme, Client Services & Planning and Creative students receive £800 while Search students receive £1,500. Travel within zones 1-2 in London is also paid for.

The School is open to second years and above, and graduates. Applicants from all academic backgrounds welcome; you don’t need any prior experience or a portfolio/book – all we want from you is great ideas, enthusiasm and lots of hard work. Applications are open NOW but the deadline is this Friday, 12th April – so be quick!

How many applications do you receive?
Last year we received about 300 applications and awarded 50 positions. The odds are pretty good, particularly in comparison to some of the grad schemes available at the best-known agencies. We have some fantastic agencies on board – we’re yet to release the full list but you may have seen that Publicis, Leo Burnett and Antidote have publicised that they are amongst this year’s crop.

Oh, and last year 75% of the students received job offers or extended placements, so we do pretty well.

How many people work in the UK ad industry?
According to the IPA November 2012 census, 20,491 people are employed in IPA member agencies. Obviously including non-IPA member agencies, this figure is even larger.

What do students learn about creativity and creative thinking?
Ad School Creative students get the chance to work with some of the best creative brains in the country and in the industry as a whole. This is an amazing chance to get to know Creative Directors not only from the agency you are placed in, but across the board as you visit other agencies for the evening sessions. Last year’s evening sessions ranged from the zen of copywriting to why digital creativity is different and how.

The Ad School was set up for students to ‘try’ the industry – we don’t expect students to have polished skills; that’s what the School is for. Learn how to become a great copywriter or art director from the best in the business, and have a whole heap of fun while you’re at it. Several of our Creative students last year came up with ideas that were run, and you will leave the programme with a great body of work which will be invaluable to future job hunting.

What do agencies look for in an Ad School graduate?
Agencies are after a fresh way of looking at consumers, brands and products. They want bright, exciting ideas, interesting insights and some fire in the belly – and, of course, lots of elbow grease.

Which agency roles are most popular with students?
In our experience, students don’t know about a lot of roles available within the industry – to counteract this we have started to make a series of short films with industry insiders to help explain the wide variety of positions available. These are all available on our careers blog, www.theadmission.co.uk. The programmes within the Ad School represent the most popular roles – Client Services & Planning and Creative are traditionally popular whereas Search Marketing is a vital part of the largest growing sector of the industry: digital.

Which roles are most in demand from agencies?
Agencies are always looking for the next generation of talent to bring into the industry and always want people for all the different disciplines available. However, as the digital sector grows year-on-year there is growing demand for graduates to fill these positions. And this doesn’t mean you have to be a technology whizz or a maths genius (although obviously these are fantastic skills to have) – digital is looking for psychology, sociology, history, science graduates: there are roles to fit skills accumulated from almost every background. Find out more on AdMISSION.

For more information on the Ad School and how to apply, visit www.ipa.co.uk/adschool and email [email protected] with any questions.

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