Meet Sydney’s Top Ten From This Year’s AWARD School

AWARD School has come and gone for 2016, with the clever creatives announced all over Australia in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, and New South Wales. Run by AWARD, the challenging 12-week program aims to help people who want to become copywriters and art directors in adland find their flair and nab their dream job.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

This year, B&T caught up with the top 10 finalists from Sydney, to have a yarn about their experiences and suss out their favourite pieces of work. And for more info check out the AWARD School website.

Check out our Q&A and their best work below:

1st: Fernando Luz | Currently: Graphic Designer/Art Director; Freelancer

DSC_2134_award school graduates FERNANDO luz

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

The highlight was meeting people and working together to achieve the same objectives. As well as sharing and discussing ideas, and discovering the different point of views on the same subject.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved?
From start to finish, work hard. Avoid recreating anything in the final week, this allows you more time to focus on choosing and refining your favourite ideas.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

After an intense creative process and in addition to personal experiences in the industry, we learned a lot about our capabilities and more importantly our limitations.

2nd: Cyndall McInerney | Currently: Copywriter at The Monkeys

DSC_2168_award school graduates

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?
The week my tutor described an idea of mine as “evil genius”. While I’m not plotting anything diabolical right now, it was the first time I was truly proud of an insight and my confidence began to grow. The free pizza every week comes a close second to this.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved?
Keep going. Keep going if your first Award School application isn’t successful. Keep going every time you think you have the best idea possible. Keep going when one spoon of Nutella hasn’t subsided your stress. Don’t stop until you have an idea that truly excites you. Or until the jar of Nutella is empty.
How do you think this has helped you in your career?

Award School lets you live and breathe your dream job and ignites your drive to spread great ideas. It also provides the rare and underrated opportunity to present bad ideas, it’s-funny-but-this-could-never-happen ideas and I-think-this-is-good-but-I’m-too-tired-to-be-sure ideas. Having someone take the time to tell you why your idea sucks is invaluable, especially when you’re sitting next to a beer.

3rd: Will Halstead | Currently: Creative Copywriter, Circul8

 

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

There were quite a few really incredible experiences that I had throughout AWARD School. The lectures were constantly inspiring and being tutored by the incredible Barb Humphries and Tim Pashen at the Monkeys was a priceless and memorable experience… but, the absolute highlight was seeing the rest of my tutorial do incredibly well on the graduation night with all of us getting work on the wall and three of us in the top ten. The 3am “It’s gonna be ok” conversations paid off.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved?

The first thing I’d say is don’t think that AWARD School is only relevant to advertising. What you learn throughout the course will apply to so many careers and personal projects, it’s a huge benefit to learn the skills behind coming up with brilliant ideas. The last thing I’d say is don’t do it half assed, the more you put into the tutorials, the more your tutors will give back and the better you’ll become.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

This is the second time I’ve done AWARD School. I did it a few years ago and completely bombed out because I didn’t put anywhere near enough effort in. The lessons of that first time, combined with what I learnt about crafting ideas this year, have taught me that if you want to be an incredible creative, not just a mediocre one, you need to put effort in. That’s pretty invaluable to learn for a career.

Jack Chapman | Currently: Interning at Future Classic; looking for a work in either advertising, music or film production.

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What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?
Getting announced in the Top 10 was definitely a surprise, a very pleasant surprise. But getting together with the other four (Whitney, Bede, Cyndall and Will) and our tutors on Thursday nights was something I looked forward to every week, no matter how unprepared I thought I might be for that week.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

If you have a spare 12 weeks to give something a solid go, feel creatively revived and then justifiably depleted by the end, AWARD School is a great place to start. It didn’t matter that I had no specific advertising experience beforehand, it was even beneficial at times to be in the dark to what is usually expected in the industry.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

I think AWARD School has helped me in general to confidently present ideas and believe them to be of unique and individual merit, even when they could alternatively be the worst idea to ever be conjured by a human mind.

Celia Mortlock | Currently: Junior Copywriter, Clemenger BBDO Sydney

DSC_2144_award school graduates Celia Mortlock

 

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

Handing my portfolio in was pretty great! Also the lectures were really good and hosted by inspiring industry legends.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

Talk to as many people in the industry or who have already done the course as possible and show someone your work before applying. It’s a fantastic course, but very all-consuming. Be ready to sacrifice your social life in favour of scribbling down ideas on every scrap of paper you can find for three months.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

AWARD School was the key that helped me transition from a suit to creative. So in that sense it’s been pretty priceless!

Hayley Warwick | Currently: Communications and Public Affairs Manager, The Communications Council ; copywriter

DSC_2161_award school graduates Hayley Warwick

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

Our weekly tutorials. After a week pitching your ideas to yourself, you desperately need someone else’s opinion. And our tutors at DDB and RGA were awesome. Really constructive and inspiring people who were extremely generous with their time.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

– Show your work to as many people as possible and ask them to explain it back to you. It soon becomes clear which pieces should be binned and which ones make sense.

Don’t keep all your notes in your phone. You’ll have even more reason to be gutted when it’s stolen.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

AWARD School affirmed I need to be in a creative role; I’ve never looked forward to homework so much. It’s been a great way of testing the water.

Leila Cranswick | Currently: Art Director

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What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

For me, the most valuable part of AWARD School was the mentoring provided by our dedicated tutors. I think we all emerged from AWARD School as very different thinkers and most of that can be credited to our tutors.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

Prepare to not have much of a social life for a few months. And if you do find yourself at a dinner or a bar during AWARD School, don’t be surprised if your mind is elsewhere thinking about apples, Fitbits or whatever that week’s brief is. It’s a tough 12-week journey but well-worth it.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

The experience definitely helped me clarify that this is what I want to do. During the course, you have the opportunity to meet so many industry professionals and future creative partners. AWARD School may not lead directly to a new dream job, but it certainly shows you how you might get there.

Nicola McCooe | Currently: Junior Creative, Iris

DSC_2138_award school graduates nicola McCooe

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

The highlight of my AWARD School experience was being a part of the first year group to have an equal gender split. It was great to see so many girls giving Award School a go and even better seeing so many girls make the top ten.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

Don’t give up. I didn’t get in the first time I applied to AWARD School and almost didn’t get in again this year. Some of the best creatives in the industry had to try a few times to get in, or they didn’t make it into the top 10. Set backs are normal in advertising. If you know you can do it, just prove it.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

AWARD School placed me at two incredible agencies – The Monkeys and Iris. I was lucky enough to land a job straight away through my tutor at Iris. But throughout my time at AWARD School and at graduation I also had the opportunity to meet some big names in advertising. I’ve been able to create an excellent network of industry professionals who I’ll stay in touch with throughout my career.

Joe Ranallo | Currently: Junior Copywriter, Havas Worldwide

DSC_2150_award school graduates Joe Ranallo

 

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

For me it was the building challenge and never being without a problem to wrestle with. Towards the end when you have ten separate briefs all moving around in your head at the same time, you start to notice and pick solutions out in everything you’re doing.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

Listen to your tutors. Don’t leave it all until the last minute. And never settle on your first idea. There were a few briefs I told myself I had cracked but ended up changing in the days leading up to submission and I’m glad I did.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

The networking element of it was really useful. It was also a good test of whether or not this was something I really wanted to do as a career. It tests your mettle and you figure out pretty quickly if it’s something you enjoy or something you never want to think about again.

Isabel Brand | Currently: Account Executive, M&C Saatchi

DSC_2159_award school graduates isabel brand

What was the highlight of your AWARD School experience?

Meeting people with similar ambitions and going through the course together was my highlight. I also loved getting to work with tutors from other agencies at their agencies and hearing about the work they’ve done.

What advice would you give to others considering getting involved in the future?

Go for it! You get as much out of it as you put in – so if you’re prepared to put in the hours, you’ll come away with work you’re proud of. I’d also say work with your tutors as much as you can. You can learn so much from them about their own experiences, and they’ll make sure you’re on the right track with your work. Stay in touch with the people you’ve met when the whole thing wraps up.

How do you think this has helped you in your career?

I currently work at M&C Saatchi in as an Account Executive. This has been a great way to show interest in making the transition into creative. It’s definitely helped get the ball rolling. The advice I got from colleagues in various departments along the way will also stay with me and help me in my career moving forward.