• Aaron Lauby

A New Age of Agency Experience

Ad agencies and restaurants have two things in common: a commitment to happy hour and a premium on past experience.

If you’ve ever applied to an agency job, you’ve likely scrolled down to see the requirements before crafting your cover letter. And if you’re like me, too many times you’ve decided not to apply because of one line-item: “agency experience required.”

That’s why, for many aspiring advertisers, internships are the holy grail of summer activities. Sure, they could turn into a job offer down the line, and you’ll definitely gain valuable connections and experience, but it also gives you the oh-so-coveted “agency experience” checkmark.

This summer, in a time of agency staffing cuts and at-home workplaces, it is harder than ever for aspiring advertisers to get that break-in experience. But advertisers are rarely the ones to roll over and give in. Instead, across the country, young advertisers are leading the way in a new format of agency experience: virtual agency simulations and case competitions.

If you are connected to many students on LinkedIn, you might be familiar with some of the trailblazers in this burgeoning model. Camp ADventure, run by VCU Ad Club, is an eight-week program where hundreds of students from across the country get to work on virtual teams while responding to a client brief from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. On the other end of the spectrum, Indoor Recess challenges aspiring advertisers nationally to imagine and build top-notch campaigns for real clients such as Color of Change in a two-week sprint to the finish line. r/AdvertisingSchool capitalizes on a lecture and assignment structure to strengthen student portfolios.

BoundarylessMN was created to serve a need for access and visibility among local aspiring advertisers - with a particular focus on equipping and educating people from diverse racial, socioeconomic, and educational backgrounds. Through the three-week program local professionals guide participants in the creation of well-grounded strategy, innovative creative, and polished presentations - all in response to a real brief from a local client.

These examples only begin to scratch the surface of innovation that is happening as a result of COVID-19. This moment of re-imagining the agency pipeline does beg the question: are we seeing merely a work-around for a momentary problem, or a whole new way of getting aspiring advertisers the experience, connections, and access they need to make a life in advertising and influence the industry for the better.

Applications for BoundarylessMN close on June 26th.

No agency experience required. Happy hour experience preferred.

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