A scab for future stars of advertising – By @zoejessicad

By Zoe Jessica Dawson


A scab for future stars of advertising


One of my favourite things at SCA is selection days. A group of little creatives with wide eyes and sweaty palms come in and bare their souls to us bravely, and then we settle down for a drink and a chat that always makes us a little soppy. 

After the last one was over, I had a chat with some of the interviewees about my own experiences, and I thought today I would write a scab for any future applicants that are trawling through our blog posts hunting for a gem of advice to get them through their own day. 

I know quite a lot about them, because I did two selection days for SCA. Not for fun, but because I didn’t get in on my first try. And trust me I’d have done 5 more if I had to to get the place I knew I deserved.

So let me talk you through the day. 

You’ll arrive at the school and climb the stairs and be taken aback by how cool the studio is. It’s big and colourful, there’s graffiti on the walls and an incredible buzz from the worker bees around the room. Marcia will try to make you feel welcome but you’ll be shitting bricks – and you should be, if you really want it. You’ll do a quiz and it will make no sense. You’ll try to cheat but you can’t – and if you do you’ll get found out later – so just answer honestly. You’ll have heard somewhere that there are vodka shots before you present and you’ll be disappointed to discover we don’t do that anymore, but you don’t need it. Adrenaline is a great shot in itself. 

The presentation comes next. If you’re anything like me, the very idea of this presentation makes you quiver with anger and anxiety. Marc tells you he wants a presentation, but he’ll tell you stories of epic performances. You’ll do your research and realise that a PowerPoint won’t cut it – he wants you to dance like a monkey. To prove you’re creative. If I wanted to audition I’d have applied to drama school, I thought. Fuck Marc. What are you supposed to do if you’re an introvert? If your creativity is quiet? If you weren’t born to dance? 

But I’ve seen a few now, and I’ve heard about more, and I’ve realised that no one is asking you to be loud – they’re asking you to be you. If your creativity is a little shy, tease it out in a way that you feel comfortable with. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not – but don’t do what I did and refuse to comply with the drama of it. Advertising is theatrical, but silent theatre is some of the most interesting. 

Write out a list of everything you think makes you you, and another list of everything you can possibly think of that you can do in 4 minutes. Link them up, play with them, and find one that excites you, scares you, and speaks to you. Don’t try to speak to us – you don’t know us and you won’t crack it – speak for yourself. 

You’ll be nervous, you’ll sit and watch 4 or 5 great presentations, you’ll want to run… and then you’ll stand up there and it’ll be over before you find time to take a breath and you should be proud that you didn’t run. It might go wrong. I’ll let you in on a secret – your presentation going wrong is a blessing in disguise. On my second interview day, I was painting some pictures and the colours went all wrong and all over the floor. I panicked. Thought I’d fucked it. But I laughed, I shook it off, and I told them what was meant to happen and moved on. Later I was told that one of the things the mentors loved was how well I kept my cool. In real life, things go wrong, and being able to deal with them is an incredibly valuable characteristic. 

When it’s all over you’ll have interviews and the only advice I can give is they’ve done hundreds of these – don’t act, they’ll see through it. They’re lovely people. They want you to succeed. We all do. 

Then we’ll all sit and chat and Marc will ask you to ask us questions. Come with questions prepared because it makes the whole thing more interesting, and gives you another opportunity to show off how you think and what you want. Go dark. Get personal. We’ll answer anything and we’ll all remember you if you make us. This is your opportunity to make us and Marc feel as shit as we made you feel when you stood up to do your presentation – enjoy it!

After that you can go home, or you can stick around and chat to us, ask us if we want to go for a pint, whatever. I don’t think I need to tell you what the smart thing to do in this situation is. I joined the students at the pub after mine and I made myself allies. Now, and between getting my place and coming to school, if I needed a hand I knew who I could message. I also learned some dirty secrets, a bit of gossip, and it made SCA seem a whole lot less scary. 

If you get in, great. If not, fuck him. Come back. Work harder. There’s nothing we love more here than perseverance and bravery. And trust me, there’s nothing more satisfying than proving Marc Lewis wrong. 

So there you go. Some selection day advice from a tried and tested SCA student that is proving Marc (and maybe the system) wrong every day.

If you need any help preparing for your day or if you have any questions about it or SCA generally, please please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are all allies.

My email is and I’m @zoejessicad on twitter and Instagram. 

Good luck. 



The copy scores 81.9 in the Flesch Reading Ease test

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