The first, and arguably the most physically demanding task of the DPS year was getting my first work placement offer. At this time I had no professional work experience and not even a degree to show for myself, so my main objective was to prove to potential employees that these factors didn’t undermine me and that I was more than eager to learn.
I began by first establishing what kind of agency I saw myself working at when I graduated. Back then I felt that I should focus on agencies within the entertainment marketing sector – Although, at this stage I wanted to keep an open mind, seen as though a major part of the DPS year is about experiencing a broad range of companies. I created a spreadsheet containing a long list of companies I was interested in and tried to rank them in terms of personal priority.
It’s also worth mentioning that by this point I had the desire to spend part of my year, working in the US, so I also considered agencies abroad – especially those that have offices both in the UK and US.
Once satisfied with my initial list, I started searching for staff on LinkedIn and added anyone who was either a Creative Director or Head of Design. I also, looked for previous/current interns for a further insight into the company. Soon I had gathered a directory of professional contacts, of which I could now contact directly. I felt that this would be the quickest platform to get a response, as oppose to emailing the company’s career email address and it later proved to be the case.
The first few messages I sent to the employers were pretty lengthy and although they got opened, only a small percentage got any reply. Consequently, I altered my tactic and began sending concise introductions of myself (around 3 sentences long), alongside a link to my online portfolio. From doing so I began receiving a lot more replies – more so from the Americans, surprisingly.
After a while I realised that these conversations followed a similar pattern. They’d usually start by the recipient opening the message and then replying a couple of days later after looking at my portfolio. Luckily the standard of my work wasn’t an issue and the feedback I was getting was generally positive. A couple of the American’s kindly went through the effort of writing substantial feedback for each individual project in my portfolio, which was really helpful! More than often Creative Directors would then send my details over to HR to see if there were any potential positions available for me. It then became apparent that although Creative Directors are in a relatively high up position, they didn’t have the authority to bring me into their company before running it through HR first. Therefore, I changed my tactic once again and began searching for HR and Managing Directors in addition to Creative Directors.
After hours and hours of persistent chasing and a week after the official launch of DPS I had my first Skype interview with Lee Fasciani: Co-founder and Creative Director of Territory Projects in London. He initially offered me a 10 week placement, starting the following week, which later got extended to four months.