Being a player in the industry and a university instructor, i.e., living in both the real and the academic worlds of ads, Georges Kyrillos, creative director at TBWARAAD Beirut, shares his take on the unabating work-versus-university debate.
The first difference is in the judging itself: unlike the full possible scale of grading at university, in the workplace, there are only two possible grades: 20/20 or 0/20. Regardless of the beauty and wow-effect of a campaign, if the client takes the work it’s a 20/20 winner, and if he doesn’t, it’s a 0/20 loser. Nice work can be a 20/20 or a 0/20 and regular/bad work can be a 0/20 or a 20/20… It all depends on the current needs, expectations, or whims of the client. This might initially cause a shock to students who were used to getting 12 or 15 or 19 on their university projects, thus the client-may-take-or-kill-my-brilliant-idea thick skin will be gradually developed.
Another difference is the tone of voice of the campaign and how much the campaign fits into the guidelines of the brand and its identity. It goes without saying that in the workplace, it’s a must; at university however, where there is no client, we liberate students from those difficult constraints in order to tap into their highest level of creativity and get them to exercise their brain muscles. More often than not, this leads to the straying of the students’ ideas out of the acceptable tone of voice of the brand: “It’s really nice, but we cannot take it as it’s not us” a real-life-client would say! In the workplace, other than having a manager or two or three, a client, and brand guidelines that encompass them all, the fresh graduate will feel trapped and his creativity choked.
“My advice for the new graduates who get the opportunity to join a big company is not to get drunk on the big agency name; it’s a huge machine that will churn you up soon enough.”
The fresh graduate has initial grand expectations of his life at an agency but gets surprised by the taming of his creativity to fit the brand’s needs and image; this often leads to some not being able to go on, but those with an adequate level of discipline will learn how to become resilient. Usually, creatives lack discipline; those with a higher level of discipline will end up playing managerial or clerical roles and eventually start losing their spark. Only those who can find a balance between creativity and self-discipline will be able to reach high in the industry and enjoy their career.
That said, fresh graduates have the best opportunities as they don’t have to adapt much to the digital world the industry currently operates in, they are born in it!
My advice for the new graduates who get the opportunity to join a big company is not to get drunk on the big agency name; it’s a huge machine that will churn you up soon enough. Make sure to know who your team leader is and follow him, as he would be your best chance of survival. Follow a person not a company. Otherwise, there’s no harm to start in a boutique agency where you could nurture your passion and creativity, then the move to a big agency will come naturally.
Finally, young generation:
• Be less entitled, your sense of entitlement will end up killing you in this industry.
• Above all, be patient. Your objective is to remain in the game, not necessarily win every single time. And remember “The free-trial is over, now you have to pay to play!”
• You need to be confident enough to be accountable for the fails but never shy away from taking as many credits as possible for your successes.