Lou Shipley is Creative Director at Havas Lynx and has 19 years’ experience as a creative copywriter in the advertising industry, having worked in several integrated agencies in both London and Manchester.

D&AD New Blood is a series of world class programmes, offering young creatives inspiration, learning and genuine breaks on the way into industry. This includes regular sessions for students to get invaluable advice and help from experienced industry creatives, and this week Havas hosted one of these sessions.

50 eager students from a cross-section of creative institutions including Sheffield Hallam, Uclan and Manchester School of Art descended on Department X. Most of them nervously clutching a folio and a handful of business cards.

Once given a beer to calm the nerves, the students were faced with ‘speed-dates’ (not literally) with a selection of Manchester’s top creatives, including five of our very own CDs and seniors and creative leads from BJL, Neighbourhood, McCann and Photolink.

Each creative pod contained industry experts and the students had roughly 15 minutes with each to pick brains, gain a pearl of wisdom or an invaluable critique of their work before moving around the room to the next expert. It was all very fast paced, and really rather exciting. What a fantastic opportunity for any creative. Even after nearly twenty years in the industry myself, I’d love an opportunity to pick the brains of people much smarter and more experienced than me.

It was a great success, and I heard many of the students saying how invaluable the evening had been. There was undoubtedly a huge amount of talent in the room, with creativity bursting out of most portfolios. A handful certainly were stand-out (they’ll know who they are when they get a call to come in for a placement).

However. As great as it was, I did have a few worries for some of them. So if any of you guys are reading, (and if you’re doing your agency research properly then you undoubtedly will be) I have a few tips:

  1. Even though your college/university course is probably the only time in your career where you can enjoy wandering off brief and experimenting – always remember you need to be employable. Have fun yes, but make sure you can answer a brief – what’s the problem and what’s your solution?
  1. Ask for the name of the creative you spoke to and don’t be afraid to follow up with them. It shows you are keen. At the very least give them your contact details – they just might want to offer you a placement.
  1. Always ensure you can explain your thinking. If asked why you did something, ‘because I wanted to’ is not an answer. And would get you fired in the real world.
  1. Set yourself some realistic deadlines. Sure, take a month to ponder a brief and push it as far as you can, I’d give my right arm for that luxury. But also test yourself with some short deadlines. And by short I mean two days, Or even one day. Go on try it, I dare you. Trust me you’ll thank me for it on your first day in your new job.
  1. Finally, always, ALWAYS bring your folio (or at the very least your three favourite pieces of work), if you are attending any kind of folio review…