Ad Nerd

I’m a copywriter at Spring. A fairly new one. I’ve worked at Spring for about 6 months and interned for 3. While there are many roads into advertising, my road was an education heavy one. I have a degree in commerce and marketing from UBC and a graduate certificate in advertising copywriting from Humber College in Toronto.

A question that I have been asked a lot in the past year: “Was it worth it?”

My answer: “Absolutely.”

And here is why.

If you have the means to attend post-secondary school and are somebody that benefits from that style of learning I don’t think you can go wrong with expanding your knowledge. You’re going to have it for the rest of your life and in my mind, that’s money well spent.

Having attended a big university and a smaller scale college I liked things and disliked things about both. These are my take-aways.

UNIVERSITY

I wanted the full university experience. I didn’t want to go to school and go home, I wanted the social aspect and the prestige that went with going to one of the top universities in Canada. I wanted to experience everything from all-nighters in the library hyped up on a mixture of coffee, energy drinks and cheap sushi to UBC’s notorious PIT nights.

Did I achieve all of this? Yah I did. I left with a rich university experience, some of my best friends and a strong knowledge of business and marketing. But did I leave with my dream job? Not so much.

When it It is no longer a IOU. came to finding a job, career services pretty much left me to my own devices. And around the 2 month mark into my new grad, very unemployed life I was beginning to feel very complacent with waking up at 10 am. Not to search for jobs but to watch “Rich Bride, Poor Bride.” Yup, I was a putting that $40,000 education to good use.

Surprisingly, the ultimate low point of my career search was not watching ordinary women turn into Bridezillas but was an interview I had for a job at an IT firm. Turns out I was highly under qualified (thanks for wasting my time IT firm that shall not be named). The interview was going downhill fast and I knew it was over when the man interviewing me asked me to explain how the Internet worked. “Uhh, it comes from this place called wi-fi?” may have been my answer, or something along those lines. I was a business kid who studied marketing strategy not computer science.

So as I walked through downtown Vancouver talking to my friend about my failed interview, I happened to receive an email saying I had gotten accepted into the Advertising Copywriting program at Humber. Times were changin’!

COLLEGE

Realization #1: Everyone is young. Like fresh out of high school young. And their outfit choices…highly questionable. Sure, UBC had 17 year olds but they mixed in with the other 50,000 students that went there so I never really noticed.

Realization #2: College is super disorganized. I was used to detailed learning outlines. College as it would turn out was the easy-going, slightly neurotic cousin of organized, slightly alcoholic university.

My studies at college were focused at least. I knew in the end I would be trained to be a copywriter. Not some ambiguous marketer or wanabee IT recruiter. The whole program was based around creating a portfolio so when I was set loose into the industry I would be prepared. Humber sent my class and I to agency recruitment events, organized a grad portfolio show for us and sent emails notifying us about potential internships. In the end, college really helped me do something that university failed to – it helped me get my foot in the door at a place I was excited to work at.

So was one more beneficial than the other? That’s a hard one to answer because I think one thing that differentiates me as a creative is that I have a business background that allows me to see things from a different perspective. That being said, without Humber I probably wouldn’t be working at Spring. I may have ended up here, but it would have been a lot harder. I would have had to figure out how to create a portfolio and make all those contacts myself. Plus, when I did eventually come back to Vancouver looking for an internship my portfolio and education made me stand out. And when you’re looking to get into an agency that gets hundreds of applicants a week, you need to stand out.

So do you need to go to school to work in advertising? Of course not. Ask people how they broke into advertising and you’ll get a variety of answers. What it comes down to is finding a way that best suits your situation. For me it was school. For you…well, that’s for you to decide!

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