Creative Pioneers Class of 2013 graduate Courtney Brooks reflects on his meteoric rise from the Selfridges shop floor to Havas junior designer.
Hello, I’m Courtney. I work at Havas Worldwide now as a Junior Integrated Designer.
Looking back around a year ago, I was working in retail. I had finished college and gained my A-levels. This is when I thought that I’d take a year out before I’d apply for university.
It had come to the time for me to apply to Uni, which I did do; but also I had read into apprenticeships and understood how successful they could actually be. Commuting in on my daily route to Selfridges, where I was working at the time, I had come across the now very recognisable Creative Pioneers Heads campaign that Metro and the IPA were promoting.
I spent a couple of hours in front of my camera in my room - trying to “promote” myself to my future employers. It’s actually a lot harder than it sounds.
It took me eight attempts at recording before I could send my video and application form off hoping for the best.
A few weeks later (which felt like a few months!), I was told that I was successful in the first stage of the process and was invited to an assessment session, where I was “grilled” for an hour and made sure that my personality and skills were relevant to the job I applied for.
Once I was through another hour of interrogation by Havas’ former Head of Design and current Studio Director, I knew that that’s where I wanted to be and follow my ultimate passion. It just felt right.
A week or so later I got a phone call letting me know the job was mine, if I accepted it. I paused in disbelief and replied, "Hell yeah!"
Once employed, I got an introduction to my training provider, which was Creative Process.
I worked together with the training provider and tutor to make sure that I completed the certificate part of my apprenticeship. I had one day off-the-job training every fortnight.
The week that I was due to be at home working on my certificate, I spent at work, and completed the work during my spare time - which meant I didn’t miss out on any opportunities at work.
The support I had from my colleagues at Havas has been amazing! I really felt like I fit right in, which is really important considering I spent more time with them than I did my own family. They’re always willing to give a helping hand and would instantly drop what they were doing to make sure that I was OK.
I remember my first day being the only one smartly dressed and wearing shoes that made that annoying noise with every footstep.
I know that this is something I want to do in the future. There are so many areas of design and I know, now that I have had my first step on that ever so hard to reach career ladder, that it is something I can explore even further.
I’ve made great contacts, with my colleagues at Havas, with other apprentices, with illustration and photographer agents as well as real leaders in the design and advertising industries.
However, it doesn’t just stop at work.
The social aspect of agency life is paramount on top of the daily tasks sitting at your desk, especially when you’ve had a really stressful week working on pitches until stupid hours of the morning.
Summer parties, Christmas parties and free bars are just the beginning of being social within an agency. Being invited to Ping Pong by photographer's agents, meeting other industry and design legends at events all over London and being a member of various committees at Havas, means that my work Inbox is never just full with design briefs.
I’ve met a whole load of great people working for an agency who I believe really value what I do, building a portfolio that blows the mind of potential employers when I tell them I’m only 20! These are only the little things that Creative Pioneers has allowed me to achieve.
The most rewarding part of the job so far, is driving around and seeing work that I’ve done on huge billboards, pointing them out awkwardly to less interested passengers.
There was always going to be a part of this where I sounded really cheesy, but I am really grateful and believe that this was the best experience of my life… so far.
Courtney Brooks is a Creative Pioneers Class of 2013 graduate.
Learn more about the hugely rewarding Creative Pioneers initiative.
Check out photos from the July 2014 celebration event at Metro in London.
Last updated 22/07/2014