Getting grads into adland
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Ogilvy last year trialled a programme to get graduates in the fields of marketing and design interested in advertising in general and the agency in particular. It met with considerable success, landed Ogilvy with four new staffers, upskilled a bunch of students and helped steer many more into a career in advertising.
Ogilvy & Mather already targets students in ad schools and has a good intern programme in place, according to Lauren Woolf, Marketing Director at Ogilvy and Mather South Africa, but the agency also wanted to look beyond those already set on a career in advertising. Last year it teamed up with several tertiary institutions in the Western Cape and Gauteng and encouraged varsity students to enter the newly launched Ogilvy & Mather Graduate Programme (OGP). They would not be competing for an internship but for a salaried, permanent position at the agency (after an initial six-month training programme).
Students were invited to conceptualise and publish a blog, which Woolf says already gave the agency insight into potential candidates a CV would not have (think topic selection, persistence, creativity etc.). They also received two challenges they had to complete, and members of the faculties where they studied helped with the final judging process, adding another layer of insight for the agency.
Last year 64 graduate students participated and four winners was announced, although more participants ended up behind hired by the agency based on their performance in the programme. The winning candidates had their final year’s study costs funded by Ogilvy.
Students learned more about the digital media and marketing environment, the social media ecosystem and some of the interview processes involved in landing a job (finalists were all interviewed by agency staff).
The four students who ‘won’ the blog challenge were put through a six month training programme that exposed them to various facets of the Ogilvy offering, and with the help of agency mentors, helped them decide where in the agency their skills would be best suited.
Woolf says the feedback on the programme has been positive, both inside the agency and form the participating institutions, and of course form the students themselves.
This year close to a hundred applications to join the programme was received. It also expanded to include the University of Johannesburg (Strategic Marketing & Communications – Honours course), University of Pretoria (Visual Communication – 4th Year Information Design course), University of Cape Town (Business Science / Marketing courses), Red & Yellow (Art Direction / Copywriting / Marketing courses) and the University of the Western Cape (Advanced Marketing / Global Marketing courses).
Once again at least four graduates will walk into a position at Ogilvy, and Woolf says the effect of the programme inside the agency will continue multiplying – 5 years from now at least 20 staffers will have entered the business through OGP.
The broader industry also benefits with more students in marketing and design now considering advertising as a viable career prospect. This year’s winners will be announced in October, says Woolf, who adds that although it takes up considerable time resources inside the agency, the calibre of candidate that walks into the office come January makes it absolutely worth their while.
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