Unlocking my career potential at RAPP

It only took me four years to realise that I could make a living from what I truly love – coming up with mad stuff and then making it. After attending the inaugural Advertising Unlocked open day, Kate O'Connor shares her experience of it as she attempts to make a career switch from Financial Services into the world of Creative.

“Hi, my name’s Kate and I’m a management consultant.” Up until ten months ago, that’s how I had to introduce myself. Because it was true. The shame.

Luckily when arriving at RAPP’s Advertising Unlocked event last week, that was no longer the case. My world has changed a lot in the past year.

Five years ago, I graduated from Cardiff University with a 2.1 in Politics & Philosophy and a conditioned notion that I had to go to the big city to chase the capitalist dream. So, I did, quickly finding myself on the Accenture grad scheme and falling helplessly into the heady world of Financial Services. Of course, it wasn’t all bad – they throw them dollar bills at you – but blimey is it soulless.

It only took me four years (!) to realise that I could make a living from what I truly love – coming up with mad stuff and then making it. Turns out they’ll actually pay you for that in advertising. So, I mothballed my power suits and headed down to Cornwall to do an MA in Creative Advertising at Falmouth University at the tender age of 27.

Now I’m back in London, a trained Ad Creative and budding Copywriter, and find myself an old head in a young person’s pursuit. Being on placement is HARD, so much harder than my experience of starting out in consulting, and that’s a bit disconcerting. I thank my lucky stars that I made the switch to Creative now and not any earlier, because at least now organisations like the Young Creative Council and the IPA have clearly got the backs of young people trying to break into the industry.

The IPA’s position was abundantly clear at their Advertising Unlocked event last week. They want to attract capable young people to the industry and are willing to put time and effort into enticing them. Advertised as “a unique Open House event where top UK agencies open their doors to those curious about a career in advertising”, I was on board. Having only experienced small agencies and above the line work so far, I was keen to take a peek into RAPP’s world.

There was a brilliantly diverse group in attendance along with me and my partner – some were straight out of university and looking for their first placement; others had been on placement for a while; a few were freelancing and looking for a full-time position; and a smattering had just graduated in something entirely unrelated and just come along out of blind curiosity – and why the heck not, good for them! After an introduction to the agency, how it fits into the bigger Omnicom universe, and a few case studies of work they’ve recently done, it was our time to shine.

They say there’s no faster way to learn than by doing, so to be given a stab at a live brief and then presenting it back to the account’s CD, head planner and creative teams was a fantastic opportunity. This particular brief was very much a ‘blue sky thinking’ opportunity, we were told not to hold back, and seeing the results of Creatives-gone-wild was great fun! The ex-consultant side of my brain was also sated by the presence of the planning department, as they helped us to articulate the insight and broader strategy around our ideas – and no one used the words ‘synergy’ or ‘ideation’ once. Refreshing!  Having a couple of placements under my belt, I understand that the brief was probably a little bit too good to be true, but as a means of getting people excited about Creative, it only served to fuel my passion for it.

In terms of carving out this new career, I’m in it for the long haul. Ultimately, I’m looking to sample the delights of a full-time position at a large agency, but for now I’ve just dipped my toe into the freelance pool, and the water’s lovely (sounds like some sort of advertising career spa – we should totally make one of those!).

Advertising Unlocked took place on Friday 29th September 2017 in 60 agencies across the UK. Find out more about the event here or watch the video below. #AdUnlocked

Last updated 21 January 2022