How to prepare for D&AD a year in advance

D&AD is approaching quickly, being two weeks away, so I thought I’d give some tips to any students coming in the next year to SCA, on how to prepare a year in advance for the big ol’ competition. 

  • Learn video editing before you arrive

I started out thinking I was a copywriter, then quickly discovered, although I can write, I prefer art direction. So over summer I wasn’t frantically trying to learn all of Adobe, with the hopes of my art director taking charge of that. How I was wrong. So even if you think you’re a copywriter, I’d try and learn the basics of all Adobe programmes before arriving at SCA. Also something to note, I’d try and learn After Effects, as much as a pain in the arse it is. 

  • You don’t have a lot of time at SCA, so any skills you think will be useful for D&AD, learn them NOW

At SCA, you spend a lot of time learning how to think. This is great as without an idea behind the craft, you’re polishing a shit. So SCA is great. You also learn craft at SCA, but you have very little time to actually spend teaching yourself the programmes because of how fast pace the course is – you’re really thrown in the deep end. So I’d get learning now if I were you. And by the way, I’d try and be a pretty decent level at photoshop and premier pro before arriving – it will make your life easier. 

  • Make lots of films

Some people here manage to shoot their own films for everything they do, but again there’s not a load of time to do this, so if you can teach yourself the basics of making films now, it will be pretty useful. 

  • Trust in your ability to have a good idea

SCA really teaches you how to have sick ideas. By D&AD you’ll most of the time be able to pull good ideas out of your arse, without much effort. So just have faith in that. 

  • Trust your gut

At the end of the day, advertising is very subjective, and even within mentors there are a lot of disagreements over ideas. It really comes down to you trusting your gut and judgement on what you like, and what you think will resonate with the audience your idea is targeted at. 

  • Award shows aren’t the be all and end all

Right now, it feels like they are. But people don’t even put them in their book a lot of the time. 

  • Use the alumni

SCA has a great alumni network, so I’d get chatting to us now. I messaged Sam in the year above who gave me heaps of advice for selection day, and continues to help me with D&AD advice. So I’d reach out as early as you’d like because the alumni are super helpful. SCAers know how hard the course is, so everyone wants to make it easier for each other. And generally, everyone is just lovely!

Hit me up if you want any advice on upcoming selection days! @annaclayden_


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