School of Communication Arts says ‘be our mentor’

You won’t find many out of touch professors at the School of Communication Arts. Its aim is to link learning with the real world and it has recruited 450 mentors from the creative industries to help ensure its students are grounded in reality. However, it is always on the look-out for fresh blood and has briefed its students to recruit more mentors. Here, students Charlie Bowden and Rasmus Jensen review the results and ask mentors for some words of encouragement.

You might actually learn something new...is just one of many great responses we received when we asked some of our mentors what words of encouragement they would give anyone considering becoming mentors. When we got the opportunity to write an article for The Drum on the importance of becoming a mentor, we emailed some of the current roster of amazing mentors; who would know more about being a mentor than those already doing it? These included such greats as Dave Bell (KesselKramer), Steve Henry and Paul Jason (Fortune Cookie). Here we’ll share some of their things that we thought were most important.Before this we should probably tell you just why we need mentors. We’re students, or out of work creatives (depend on how you look at it) at School of Communication Arts 2.0, a school based in Vauxhall, London. Our teaching structure is different from other universities in the country as we’re 25 students all on a quest for the big idea that can make a great campaign. Rather than the regular student/teacher relationship we have 450 mentors from all aspects of the business coming into our humble studio, to help us develop these big ideas. We asked our mentors several questions about their experiences so far, their dealings with the school and why they would encourage others to take up mentoring. All came back with varied answers, but pretty much the same feel and experience about the school. There’s an energy about the school and the students. To quote Steve: “It feels very alive, very buzzy.” Another thing was the relationship between the mentors and the students; they all like the idea of taking the time to go around listening to different ideas and giving with their professional input but getting other perspectives back. It’s not just about helping the students; it’s also a place for mentors to have fun. A great way to end this article would be to pass on the advice our mentors would give to people thinking about becoming a mentor at School of Communication Arts 2.0. Steve Henry: “Don’t pause. Go and learn what some fresh minds are thinking.” Dave Bell: “Do it. You don’t think you have the time, but you do.” Paul Jason: “Email or call, just get in there and contribute, your brain will thank you for it. Ask for advice. Take an open mind and listen, you might actually learn something new.” Here, students Alice Ratcliffe and Ellen Svenningsen speak to mentors Dave Bell, KesselsKramer and KK Outlet, David Buonaguidi of Karmarama and Jeremy Green, The Creative CircleDave Bell, partner & creative director, KesselsKramer, Amsterdam, and KK Outlet, LondonWhat does the term mentoring mean to you?Giving away as much knowledge as possible for free, either your own, or stuff you’ve learned/stolen/picked up. Turning up (which i haven’t done for too long).Does the prospect of being a mentor scare you?No.If you have acted as a mentor before how did it feel?Rewarding.Have you been to School of Communication Arts before?A few times.If so how did you feel after your visit?I felt cleansed after spending a day in the school. I felt dirty after spending a night in Vauxhall.What did you tell your friends about it?Do it. Yes you do have the time. Don’t make excuses.How did you get into the industry?I was at the SCA first time round on a scholarship. That opened doors.Do you think it is important to open doors for others?It’s essential, it’s human and it feeds you at the same time.How do you get inspired?Questionnaires and unicorns.David Buonaguidi, chief creative officer, KarmaramaDoes the prospect of being a mentor scare you?Not at all. I have had a unique career, having worked in very small and very large agencies, having started up several agencies and also having worked as a client. Every environment I have worked, especially Karmarama, Channel 4 and St.Luke’s and importantly as I have got older, I have mentored people throughout, unofficially of course. However, my career path has been very unconventional and I have a very strong entrepreneurial spirit, and I am aware that everyone is different, I come across as a little gung ho, and some people may find it more useful than others.If you have acted as a mentor before how did it make you feel?Made me feel good; being able to help and advise people by tapping into my experience is helpful.Have you been to School of Communication Arts before?Several times, a long long time ago.If so how did you feel after your visit?Honestly, I thought it was very interesting, but still had the same problem that other colleges suffer from which is that the business moves so fast and that college courses need to move as fast or even faster. Also, there was an air of “we go to SCA, and we deserve a job.” I found this at St.Martin’s too. Maybe it’s just a London thing, but several colleges outside of London are very competitive and we could learn from that. I felt it could be better, and spend less time being a cool London college and trying to be the most innovative and interesting communications college instead.How did you get into the industry?I wasn’t very academic, but I was good at creative stuff, and while working behind the bar of my dad’s Italian restaurant I watched lots of ad men having the time of their lives and thought I would have some of that too. Sadly, by the time I started that era was well and truly over. I did a design course at college and got summer job placements, put together a book and then rode the beautiful horse that is lady luck.Do you think it is important to open doors for others?Very.How do you get inspired?Listening, watching and playing as much as possible, and importantly I don’t give a shit what other agencies do, it’s not important and you get very little inspiration from the ad business. Look elsewhere and be inspired to change the business.Jeremy Green, CEO, The Creative CircleWhat does the term mentoring mean to you?It’s a bit like parenting. You offer guidance and support and then you are filled with pride when the mentored achieve.Does the prospect of being a mentor scare you?Is there something to be scared of?If you have acted as a mentor before how did it make you feel?Important, clever and knowledgeable.Have you been to School of Communication Arts before?Yep!If so how did you feel after your visit?Interested in how the Creative Circle could get involved and support what was being done at the school.How did you get into the industry?I answered an ad in the Eve Standard and started at McCanns looking after the art store.Do you think it is important to open doors for others?I don’t think that’s quite the right term. I want to help others open their own doors.How do you get inspired?By working with creative people.

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