The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AWARD School

When it comes to AWARD School, copywriter and Youngbloods WA committee member Simon Mullins knows a thing or two. After all, he's completed it twice! Now that the course has kicked off for another year, here's his top tips for AWARD School success.

So, you’ve made it into AWARD School. Now what?

Well, you can start off by giving yourself a hearty pat on the back, because this is no small feat. It’s extremely competitive, and out of all those entries yours was deemed worthy. So well done, and kudos to you. But it’s not quite time to pop the champagne yet. The warmup is over, and the real deal is about to begin!

This could be your launching pad into the wonderful world of advertising, if you put everything you can into it and take everything you can out of it. But how on earth do you do that?

Here are some tips that will help you get started!

Firstly, there’s no substitute for hard work. Sometimes you’ll find a great idea pretty quickly, where other briefs you’ll spend hours banging your head against a wall. Either way, there’s usually a better idea further down the rabbit hole, and the more ideas you can come up with the better.

Don’t just follow the same path over and over. Try and think about the brief in as many different ways as possible, and see where you end up. AWARD School is a beautiful, client-free experience and it is not the time to play it safe. If you’re struggling, a quick Google of ideation techniques can help get you started. And make sure you write down all your ideas, so you don’t let any good ones slip away!

Make the most of the tutors. Come to the tutes prepared with all your ideas laid out in a clear way so you can get as much feedback as possible, and (politely) follow up to see if they’ll review more of your work. The more feedback you can get, without annoying every single one of your tutors, the better!

Choose whose opinion to trust. Feedback from others is very important, but can also be conflicting. And sometimes, you’ve just got to back yourself. If you believe in an idea, take on constructive feedback and make it as good as possible, but ultimately trust your own creative judgement.

Your classmates aren’t your enemies. You can end up with great friends, industry-event drinking buddies and even useful business contacts. It’s a great form of – and I apologise profusely for using this word – networking. You’ll be very grateful to have people to share ideas with at 2:30am on the morning your portfolio is due!

Don’t leave it all to the last minute. Yes, last minute ideas happen and you’ll definitely see a few of them in the books at the end. But you’ve got 10 briefs to crack over your 12 weeks, and you’ll find that drawing your ideas can take forever. Especially if you’re a perfectionist! Try and stay on top of it as much as possible, and even start drawing them up early if you know you’ve got a good one.

When it comes to drawing up your ideas, present them as simply as possible. The people who will be reviewing your work on graduation night, and ultimately the ones you need to impress, don’t have time to read your long descriptions. They haven’t even seen the brief before. Make it easy for them, with minimal words and an easy-to-understand layout.

After graduation, do whatever you can to get your foot in the door.The advertising industry is one of the toughest to crack, and you won’t get anywhere by waiting around for the phone to ring. Talk to all the connections you made about any opportunities and reach out to all of the CDs in town. Try and get into an agency for work experience, or even just ask if they have any briefs you can work on at home. The more they know you, and see what you can do, the better.

And that’s it! AWARD School is an amazing, incredible, stress-inducing, once-in-a-lifetime experience that is unlike any other. Make the most of it, and remember to have fun.

Because otherwise, what’s the point?