I recently received an email with the subject line “Brandcenter Rejects Anonymous.” It said the following:

Kelley,

I found your blog earlier this week when I received the disappointing news that I too was not accepted to VCU as a copywriter. I know you’re a few years removed from the profound awfulness of that moment, but I wanted to thank you for having the strength to post about the experience. Right now all I want to do is curl into the fetal position and die of an ice cream overdose…I can’t imagine having the resilience to state my feelings publicly as you did. Needless to say, your words gave me a great deal of comfort in the shadow of my defeat.

Like you, I did an abundance of research, sought out advice wherever I could, and seemingly did everything in my power to make my acceptance a reality. I turned in an application I was very proud of (having easily poured over 300 hours into it) and to fall short without the prospect of knowing what shortcomings the faculty found in my work is truly crippling. But also like you, I am not resolved to succumb to the failure, and intend to get right back on the horse and stampede toward my goal of being hired by a brand/agency as a copywriter.

It seems like you were able to continue on your path and find success, but unfortunately your story in the blog ends somewhere in 2015. I was curious about your experience with Job Propulsion Lab, and whether you think that would be something I should check out. I am also debating applying to Miami Ad School and Creative Circus, but I’m just not sold on paying Brandcenter level money for more of an Off-Brandcenter education.

I’m not sure if others who have been disappointed by their VCU results contact you around the same time every year…but again, thank you for posting.

All the best…

 

Not only was I flattered that someone actually reads my blog, but I was also touched by such a thoughtful and well-crafted email and reminded that I haven’t updated this thing in two years. Thanks a lot, Tom. So, without further ado, here is my lengthy response and an explanation of where I’ve been hiding. Best of luck to all my fellow members of BRA.

 

Tom,

I apologize for the delay, but I wanted to make sure I gave you the response that you deserve. As for you not getting into the Brandcenter, let me offer you a few eloquent words as only a copywriter could…THAT FUCKING SUCKS!

I’m sure by now you’ve had friends, family, and mentors tell you that everything will be okay, but you already knew life doesn’t end with a rejection. Sometimes, you just want someone to realize how much you wanted it and how awful it is that it didn’t work out. I get it. Forget what they’ve told you for a minute, and let yourself be upset. That blog article you read? It came after a few choice words and a lot of tears. Soak it in so that you can pick yourself up and move forward with even more determination.

When you’re ready, I do recommend an alternative portfolio school. The difficult thing about going without is that you can’t know what you don’t know. No matter what school you attend, you’re sure to get better. And more importantly, you’ll have an art director to help so that you can focus solely on writing and the big idea. Job Propulsion Labs was a great experience. It taught me how to work with an art director and under a creative director. It also challenged me to push past my initial ideas until I found something even better. Bart Cleveland works closely with you and is available at all hours (and I mean he’ll respond back at 3 a.m.). He knows his stuff.

Nevertheless, the school you choose ultimately should depend on where you want to end up in your career. After a year at Job Propulsion Labs, you’ll still need to put in another year or two into your portfolio on your own to get it to a decent place, and then you’ll most likely have to start off in corporate advertising or a smaller agency. That’s not saying anything against the program. They just don’t have enough resources to take you from zero to 100 in a year. If you’re looking to really jumpstart your career in a national agency, I’d strongly suggest Creative Circus. I’ve heard just as many good things about the Circus as I have about Brandcenter, and the student work is amazing. If you look at moderncopywriter.com, a lot of the best copywriters graduated from the Circus. As for Miami Ad School, I’ve heard two opinions. One is that they accept everyone, and the students are a little less mature and less disciplined in their work. I’m also not extremely impressed by the work they produce, but that’s subjective. I’ve also seen top-notch copywriters that graduated from Miami, and they highly recommend it.

Now back to your question about where I am now. Within a month of seriously applying to agencies and corporations, I got a copywriting job with Capital One. I’ve been there as a contractor for almost a year, and now they’re trying to transition me into an associate. If you would like to do the same, staffing agencies like Aquent are the best way to get there. I can refer you to a contact if you’re interested. But, corporate life is never what I was after. I’ve always wanted to be at a big agency working with even bigger clients. I love the idea of freeing your imagination without constraint. And in corporate life, there’s a lot of restraint. So, I’m applying to the Brandcenter again. I actually turned in my application the day before you emailed me and enjoyed a little fright when I saw the word rejection haha. I’ll be applying to the Creative Circus as well if I don’t get in. Maybe we’ll even be classmates, and it will all come full circle.

I hope you’re able to take a little comfort from my response. Thank you for contacting me and reading my blog. Feel free to reach out at any time.

You got this.

 

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Who wrote this exquisite piece of literary gold? Oh yeah, me! This is why I have such great respect for agencies like Madison + Main. They reached out to their Facebook fans for a sign idea and actually used mine…off of Facebook! Not only did they give a young, unknown copywriter a chance to write copy representing their agency, but they also host monthly media mixers to give us a chance to mingle with advertising’s top dogs.

It’s a struggle to break into this field, and it’s nice to know there are people looking out for you.

mmsign

Image  —  Posted: February 6, 2015 in Advertising
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My teachers taught me to question everything. That’s how scientific discoveries are made, governments are changed, and civil rights are realized. As a result, I never automatically accept what I am told just because someone is older, wiser, or more important. So when did this become such a bad thing?

As I grew, I noticed more and more hostility from others in relation to my questions. I’m told to just take what I’m given because they know better. But this detracts from my ability to learn. They seem to think I am disrespecting them. In actuality, it’s quite the opposite. If we respect someone, we want to learn from them. To learn from them, we must gain understanding.

I could do a job for years, blindly following what someone tells me to do. I could get through a computer system, accomplishing the task at hand with a memorized list of when and where to click certain keys. And later on, I’d be lying if I put that computer system as a skill on my resume. I won’t have any grasp on what I’m doing or why. I just completed the task at hand.

As children, we ask why. Why does this have to change as we grow older? Millennials: We want to grow. We respect you and we are fully aware that you know way more than us. After all, you remind us every day. We’re scum in the business world. We know nothing. We get it. But how can we ever get to be like you, the person we look up to? How do we grow to be the next generation of wise adults? Without the why, you’re doing all of the thinking for us.

Please don’t get mad when we question. We are not questioning you or your authority. We question because we honestly don’t know. We don’t get it. So teach us. Make us understand. Turn us into something more. Because no one ever learned any better from “because I said so.”

I got your back, Ogilvy

Posted: June 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Coworker 1: “Is this how dumb society has gotten? Huggies has this new app where it informs you when your baby’s diaper is wet. It’s pretty obvious when a baby’s diaper is wet. You can feel it.”

Me: “Maybe that’s what they’re trying to say with the app. Huggies diapers are so absorbent, that you can’t even tell when the baby wearing them has peed.”

Coworker 2: “I love your advertising mind. That’s so cool.”

It’s the little things 🙂

 

Image

It is time to take a step back and work forward. Forget what I said about the second circle of advertising being the job search. I’ve started a new step before that, and “The New Second Circle” sounds better than “Circle 2.5.” Let’s title this circle, Job Propulsion.

Since my last post, my mentor, Copywriter Colin Quinn of BooneOakley, emailed me about a mentor of his who started a mini portfolio school of his own. It’s called Job Propulsion Labs and the man he told me about is Bart Cleveland. You see, Bart had emailed him to see if he knew anyone that could use his help, and Colin, knowing what I’ve been through, suggested I speak to Bart for a little advice. I was flattered Colin thought of me, and took the suggestion.

After the phone call with Bart, I became very interested in Job Propulsion Labs to build and improve my portfolio. The hook line and sinker for me was Bart’s passion for advertising. I’ve spoken with many people in the industry, and they always seem to be so blasé about it. It’s not often I see my passion for advertising in others. It was also really nice that he believed in me. Obviously, after one call you can’t tell if someone can make it in advertising or not, but he was so encouraging and hopeful of my abilities. There are a lot of other perks to his program, but the final thing that pushed me in this direction was that he promised to be there whenever I needed him. He can be flexible with my current work hours. The fact that he said he would meet with me via skype or phone at 9:00pm on a Saturday or respond to emails at random hours every day if I wanted showed his dedication. That is exactly what I needed. I have been looking for someone to guide me in the right direction with strict answers and availability.

Of course, I had to be responsible. I double-checked with Colin that Bart is indeed a good and genuine person that he trusted. I also did a Google search to view his qualifications (which are extensive, by the way) and asked around to some people in the industry to see if they had heard of him or his program. Everything checked out great.

So, the first check has been written (he lets me do installments!), and the next six months of my life I get to be truly creative again. Job Propulsion Labs have a secret sauce when it comes to their teaching methods, so I won’t be able to talk much about the process itself. However, I will keep all of you up-to-date on how I like it, and hopefully I’ll get to show you some awesome campaigns as I go.

Well, I didn’t get into VCU’s Brandcenter. I can honestly say I tried my best.

I am disappointed that I will not have that level playing field in which to learn. All the students are there to learn and are humbled by that fact. It would have been nice to be able to talk to others who are just as interested in advertising while being able to go to professors for advice at any time. It would have been a great environment in which to grow without the intimidations of starting out for the first time in an agency.

Also, I will miss the prospect of new friends. The Brandcenter seems like a great way to meet new people with similar interests and to bond with them through challenging assignments.

But most disappointing is not having that path to a basically guaranteed job in an agency. With their recruitment day for second years, I would have had very high chances of entering an amazing agency. Now, I have to storm the castle all by myself.

From the moment I received the bad news, I have started to make a plan of attack. It’s rather stressful actually. I envy the industries where all you do is turn in a resume and cover letter to apply.

First off, I have hired a photographer friend of mine for $150 to help me with some photographs for a couple ads I wrote. I want them to look as professional as possible. Next, I will use another friend who freelances creating websites to make a killer website for me since I have yet to make one on my own. This would normally cost $45/hour, but she has promised me a discount. Needless to say, this will get pricey. After placing some pieces up on my website, I will then tweak some of my ads to as close to perfection as I can, and reprint my portfolio. Then the fun of knocking on agency doors begins.

I can’t deny that it is a little daunting to go through a process like this again. As I have said before, I have crazily wanted this career since I was ten years old. Therefore, I have spent over half my life working towards one goal. That means a lot of hard work and a lot of failures. It gets hard having so many times worked my absolute hardest only to not achieve that next step and knowing that it could happen again now. But as painful as it is to try again for that step up, I have to do it. It’s in my nature. I have that fire in my belly that won’t let me stop. It’s my dream after all.

So now that I have to start a new plan, I am trying to focus on the silver lining: I don’t have to stress about finances due to tuition for the next two years, and hopefully I can find an agency job sooner than I would have by going to graduate school.

Now to delve into the second circle of advertising: The job search. I hope you will continue to follow me as I go deeper and deeper into the inferno.