Advice for Future Students
It’s Checkout’s last ever group SCAB, find out what we’ve learnt along the way and what pearls of wisdom we’re imparting to future students.
Never go to a second location with a hippie.
I will admit, it’s been tough being an Online student and not being able to have a normal social life thanks to Covid. So all you can do is try to make the most of these Online limitations. Have a voice, reply if you can in classes — even if you think the answer will be stupid. You’re allowed, you’re a student!
Work with as many different people as you can. Enjoy term 1, don’t take it too seriously. When you start your book, start with brands people have heard of and try to get a human truth at the heart of the idea. Enjoy the year, it’s a unique experience. The more fun you have, the more fun your book will be. The more fun your book will be, the more fun chats you have, the more chats you have the less fun you have. Signing off.
Don’t stress, enjoy the ride. Trust the process. Question everything.
Use the mentors- even ones you don’t immediately click with. Every single mentor holds a bank of knowledge and they are all there to make your work the best it can be.
You can do it. You need to believe that you absolutely are good enough to be here. It’s hard work, but you’ve got what it takes. Also, rinse the mentors for all they’re worth! 😉
It’s a marathon not a race. Although there is an immense amount of pressure throughout the year, try not to take everything in the first two semesters super seriously. Try to remember you are still learning and give yourself the freedom to play. Manage your energy and prioritize. You don’t want to burn out before the end.
Re-watch masterclasses, ask your peers for their opinion, get in the mentor queues. Opinions and feedback will drag you in so many different directions, consider every which way people send you and then trust your gut. You’re here to learn, embrace the mistakes you will inevitably make. Remember to breathe. You earned your place, you do belong.
Learn how to manage your time well. Take the time to organise yourself, at the beginning of the week my partner and I would have over-arching plans of what we needed/ wanted to do. We made hourly blocks to separate time towards things. BUT we were never that good at sticking at it, you get carried away and forget about it. Good time management means that you don’t become swamped with your work, which will cause you a lot less stress. Also, do excel spreadsheets for emails, note down a traffic light system of what ideas the people you’re seeing like (there will be a lot of different opinions) but hopefully you start to see the ones that shine.
Have an open mind on any creative technique/advice you’re given, give them all a try. Keep a list and randomly have a go at them when stuck, just to get into motion again.
Have SMART goals for the day, the week, the month, the year. You can/ you will re-adjust them when needed. Everyone at SCA will have different goals, reflect on that to take a step back when you doubt or compare yourself with others. There is a bigger picture.
Ask/exploit mentors and other students about your ideas in early development stages.
Take notes during classes and any meetings, reread them randomly to reactivate them in your memory. You might also find a solution to a current problem you’re facing.
Keep everything: have song playlists, Pinterest boards, a list of nice websites, photograph or screenshot anything that caught your eye.
My main piece of advice would be to have as much fun with your ideas as you can when the briefs don’t matter as much. Also make sure and use the mentors as much as you can because you won’t have access to such a diverse network of teachers again.
Just a few bits of practical advice, as everyone has covered all the work hard and be yourself stuff.
- Of all the words people have used to describe me, organised probably crops up the least frequently. So this didn’t come easily at all.. but keep a spreadsheet to arrange your book crits, with columns for the team, their contact details, whether you’ve emailed them, and when you’re seeing them. Start making it over Christmas and aim to go on your first crit in January with a friendly team to wet your feet with the whole process.
- This took me a while to learn and it might be at odds with stuff that’s been said previously. But you don’t have to take every piece of advice you get on board. A lot of good work gets conflicting opinions. We still have campaigns in our book that we believe in, that certain mentors have advised us to bin. But we didn’t, and they’ve ended up being some people’s favourites.
- Learn Adobe in term one. Even if you’re a copywriter. Especially Illustrator. I regret not getting comfortable with it until halfway through term two, because I thought Photoshop was enough. But once you learn Illustrator, you’ll realise how useful it is.
- Just make stuff. If you have an idea for an app, a website, a funny video, a song, something random- just actually put in a few hours and do it. Especially in term one where briefs and stuff don’t really matter.
Ok this might be the longest thing I’ve ever written for a group scab. Apologies. Good luck and don’t overthink it. You’ll be fine.
Don’t forget this course is meant to be fun. Do weird stuff, push the boundaries, work with people you would never have dreamt to work with, you never know what might come of it. Take every day as an opportunity to learn something new, no matter how small. Make the most of the mentor’s advice & feedback, but also trust your gut. This course is yours to make the most out of, and trust me it flies by so quickly.
Also, try and have a life outside SCA. Dinner chat about propositions and scamps is real dull to anyone who isn’t part of the cult.
Just be yourself, at least for the first week. Then realise that your authentic self is unlikeable, a jackass, and you’ll never win friends that way. Invent a new, better self to be, put on a mask to hide your insecurities (and let’s face it, you’re a creative, you’re horrendously insecure). Try out that character you’ve always wanted to be, and go with that.
For example I’ve been pretending to be Swiss chocolate magnate the whole course – no one has questioned it despite my lack of ability to speak either French or German, but god damn if it didn’t have everyone convinced or my name isn’t Johnny Toblerone.
If you want to become Queen Bee, make sure you stop and smell the flowers along the way.
Also learn how to lock your phone.
Fuck up as soon as you can and just make stuff.
I learnt this too late and it meant playing catch up on propositions, craft, and gaining confidence.
Just make ‘wrong’ stuff, you’ll learn quicker and get it right quicker.
I’ve got three pieces of advice.
There’s a lot of gold in this SCAB already and it proves the point I’m about to make. Learn from all the other students around you. I’ve been blown away by some of the thinking from this year’s cohort and am continually inspired by them all. Black List, Where the Sun Don’t Shine, Aware in Prayer, need I go on? Try and work with as many of your cohort as you can and continue to soak up all their brilliance.
Start going on crits as soon as you can. Pretty simple really. This is one of the scariest parts of the course but where your craft is tested and your learning is really cemented.
Finally, show your appreciation. Remember to always thank all the mentors, faculty, alumni etc. for what they do. So much of what you’ll learn from this course is effectively gifted to you from all the amazing people at the SCA so remember to always say your thanks.
‘The opposite of a good idea is often a good idea’ (Rory Sutherland said that not me). So if you want a shortcut to coming up with original ideas, ask yourself what everyone in the category is doing and find a way of doing the exact opposite. You’ll be surprised at how often it really is that simple.
Ask yourself what kind of work you want to make and then make that kind of work.
Sometimes the ones that will help you the most are your guts, learn to trust them.
Learn to talk shit, learn to write shit, learn to scamp shit, learn not to be afraid of shit, because sometimes it can transform itself into gold.
Oh, and get Grammarly.
In lieu of another global pandemic, find something to put things in perspective with. If you’re here, you’ve got something precious (even if it is just a bit of drive) and you don’t want to crush it by putting all the pressure in the world on top of it. Breathe, and make sure to go out and experience life, or your insights will all revolve around pencils and the coffee run.
- When you see your mates outside of school, try not to talk about SCA. You will recharge your own brain, you will keep engaged in their lives and you will not bore them to death.
- It might feel like you never have time to do any independent projects because there is always a brief on. Remember that it’s ok to drop the ball sometimes. As long as you’re working on something your time will have been well spent.
- Keep every bit of work/idea you have. You never know when they will come in use.
- Nothing good ever came out of a strats page. Ideas shouldn’t really work as just a line.
Get your strategy right.
Pin your proposition on the wall where you can see it.
Make what excites you.
Don’t be precious with your ideas and embrace collaboration.
Don’t be a dick.
SCA is intensely hard work but it’ll be over sooner than you think. So try to enjoy every moment.
Remember to be kind to everyone and support each other.
Get in early every day and sit in the studio.
It’s okay to be quiet and observe.
Try not to compare yourself to fellow coursemates.
Slow and steady gets through the race.
Book to see as many guest mentors as possible.
Finally, at the end of the day, it’s only advertising. Yes it will matter a lot to you, and yes it will be tough if a brief doesn’t go very well. But you get another go, there will always be another brief, another opportunity.