SCA Turned Me Into A Wizened Old Hag…And It Can Happen To You Too!

So. You’ve done it. Had a phone call with a bearded wizard called Marc, submitted yourself to a four-minute humiliation ritual that you devised yourself, answered a series of strange riddles in your interview – and you’ve been told ‘yes’.

And now you’ve accepted your offer, plundered all the nearby villages for the necessary coin, and began learning to juggle, how can you prepare best, and what should you do once you get here?


If you do one thing, learn Adobe. This isn’t a hot tip because it’s all over every Scab you read on this topic. But do it. Even if you’re a copywriter. 

I did an hour every day with Dan The Man from Envato Tuts+. These are meaty tutorials but you go through every single tool basically and learn how to use it. 

You’ll need to know Illustrator best, then Photoshop, to begin with. But make sure you spend some time learning Premiere Pro and After Effects (I’ve linked Dan again but it’s probably easier to just look for tutorials on exactly what you want to do to save time). You’re not told to learn AE inyour info pack but you definitely need it, and you’ll want to put as much time in before school as you can.




If you’re not already…Everything that comes up in the books on your reading list is worth knowing about. Check out Daze and Orla’s Student Bible and the Deck of Brilliance as a starting point if you’re not sure where to begin. Especially worth doing if you’re a foreigner like me and don’t know anything about British advertising. Oh, and go overboard on Dave Dye’s podcast, especially if you can spot that someone he interviews is coming in to school at some stage. The calendar drops before school starts.


SCA alum are your best resource throughout the course, basically. Ask Marcia at the office or even Marc when you chat to him if you’re unsure about doing it or if you just want someone to chat to. Or to buy the reading list books off if you’re a nerd like me and read them all.


PLEASE promise you’ll do this. 


Learn from my mistakes/stressful choices and know that even if you book holidays you might be working during them. Or the School might schedule workshops and stuff during half term. 



Okay I personally did not love Term One. If there’s any time imposter syndrome hits you the hardest, it’s Term One. Plus, you don’t really have any control over who you’re working with, so some weeks are harder than others as you might not gel with everyone (even if they’re your mate outside of working together). That’s cool, luckily you’re only really there to find one person, so not every shoe has to fit. Or something. I don’t think people are shoes, just to clarify. 

Basically, you’ll get better and School will get better, so stick with it.


Your workload in Term One will feel like a lot but you’re actually on easy mode. Sorry to bring bad news. Set boundaries and keep them: go home at the time you said you would, choose the briefs you go all out on and the ones you spend less time on. Focus on getting to know people. 


Make a lil spreadsheet and get used to planning out your week, referencing the calendar that the school gives you. Do it when life is peaceful so it’s instinctive when it’s not. Ask Marc about Pomodoro if you’re stuck for a place to start, or just do it by half hour increments. Please remember to put in lunch, and go for a little walk around Brixton sometimes to get your step count above 500.


Suddenly you realise that you did learn stuff in Term One and you’re way better at doing the idea thing. Just in time, too. D&AD is a scaly monster that lurks in the depths of your future. If you keep your work/life boundaries during D&AD, go you. I didn’t. So, be prepared for about 3 weeks of eating, breathing, sleeping, dreaming about advertising. If you get to sleep. 

Choose someone you’d be happy spending a week fulltime with, at a minimum. If you’re not handy on the tools, make sure you’re present and helping by feeding and watering your art director and sometimes taking them for walks. Make sure they wear clean clothes and give them some sunlight every day so they don’t go blind after the deadline. 

Oh, and while you’re doing that, remember that D&AD isn’t as important as your book and you’ll probably have a book inspection the next week. Haha. Yeah. Don’t worry, no one else is doing theirs either.

Look out for Term 3, coming when I know what happens in Term 3. And please get in touch if you wanna chat!


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