A guest post by Lydia Chenhall Creative Writing & English Literature 2020
My career as a copywriter is still pretty new. People ask me what I do all the time, and the best response I can give them is that “It’s the wordy part of advertising.” The realisation that I wanted to be a copywriter only made itself known to me last September. In fact, beforehand when people had asked me if this was an option after graduation, I laughed at them and said no, “Advertising is boring, why would I want to do that!?” Turns out I was very, very wrong.
Before September, I’d planned a very rough overview of what my future as a graduate might entail. There were a few options available: a masters, a law conversion course to go into legal copywriting (not actually sure what I thought this entailed), writing video game scripts or maybe even banging out a few YA novels in hopes of becoming the next Sarah J Maas or JK Rowling. I wasn’t really sure which option to go for, and I seemingly changed my mind on this every week.
TIP: There’s more to the creative writing industry than novels and poetry, so don’t worry if you don’t think you’re very good at either – that’s why you’re doing the course, to learn how to do more!
Luckily for me, the Creative Writing lecturers had planned a series of copywriting masterclasses hosted by Raven Brookes, who at the time worked for DRPG, a creative communications agency based in Hartlebury. For some reason, I just knew I had to take part in this, and I’m extremely glad I did, because within the first hour, I could finally see my future.
I began to research what a copywriter actually did, eagerly noting which books I could read and what Twitter and LinkedIn pages would be beneficial to follow. Raven was hands down one of the coolest professionals I’d ever met – it was strangely refreshing to see someone with a strikingly alternative/non-conventional style in the corporate industry. Especially, because I’d always pictured anything corporate or professional to be variations of suits and painfully high patent heels.
I continued to go to these masterclasses, enamoured by the knowledge she relayed to us, as well as by how much I enjoyed the corresponding activities. I’d never been set a task before where I’ve approached it head on and been confident in doing so. I remember being sat there in that first class and thinking “This is it. This is what I’m supposed to do – I’m good at this.”
From then on I had my mind set on the fact that I wanted to work with Raven, and I needed to impress her in these classes for this to happen. I found the best way to do this was through presenting my responses to the rest of the class as often as possible, and at the end of the second session I asked for the other examples to take home and try in order to show her that I was interested in this field and was committed to putting in the work outside of the lessons. In the final masterclass I decided to go for it and just straight out ask for a job on my feedback slip. I wasn’t really expecting to hear back, but it meant I could leave that room knowing I’d at least made an effort to obtain some kind of placement or a contact in the industry that might help me find my feet after graduation.
TIP: Go to every event and masterclass that the department offers – you never know what doors these could open for you!
During my time at the University of Worcester the students had access to multiple events such as poetry and novel readings, and career masterclasses to expose us to all ends of the creative spectrum. The lecturers also encouraged us to network and reach out to the contacts we had met. This persuasion eventually led to me contacting Raven and obtaining some really great career advice from her . It also made me confident enough to apply for a vacancy at DRPG that has amazingly led to a contract with the company! Sadly, Raven has left the company now, but I’m forever grateful for the support and guidance she offered me during my pursuit to become a copywriter and how it made the whole process a lot less intimidating.
I started my job a day into the COVID-19 lock-down. I had been visiting my parents that weekend, and I’d ended up being unable to travel back down to Worcester. This surprisingly worked out well, as it meant I now had a semi-supportive dog to cuddle whenever I got nervous. Although starting my job at the end of March meant that I was juggling lectures, assignments and work for a few weeks, I welcomed it during the lockdown period, and now that I’ve handed all of my assignments in, I almost miss that added stress… almost. I’m also extremely thankful that I chose a variety of different modules throughout university, as this has certainly increased the versatility of my writing and allowed me to efficiently and confidently respond to any briefs I’m given!
Luckily, my time working for DRPG so far has been amazing, and I’ve loved every second. It’s certainly been a challenge starting a new job from home, but greeting colleagues and going out of your comfort zone is surprisingly a lot easier when you’re in the safety of your own home, sat behind a screen. What has helped even more is that my colleagues/team members have all been so lovely and extremely supportive and understanding while I’m adapting to this new, fast-paced environment.
COVID-19 has admittedly made my future a little foggy, but I’m thankful that DRPG have given me a chance. Knowing that someone, who had introduced me to an industry that I so desperately wanted to be a part of, saw potential in me was truly an amazing feeling. What’s even greater now that I am a part of it is that I’ve been able to meet and work with other amazingly talented copywriters, proofers and other key players in the creative communications sector that have opened my eyes to how vast and exciting the career options stemming from a creative writing degree can be.
Even though the world is a little strange and scary right now, I’m extremely excited to see what my future as a copywriter holds.
TIP: LinkedIn is a very handy tool for making connections in the industry – asking people for 10 minutes of their time to answer some questions you might have about the industry they’re in is extremely beneficial and it helps to create your network of contacts.