It has been another varied month for me at Fluid: I have done media planning and buying for the first time; worked on all stages of projects from brainstorming through to report writing and social promotion, and next week I am helping out on a photoshoot! Whilst working on this variety of projects I have noticed that despite the fact I enjoyed school – and not just lunchtime! – there are a lot of things they don’t teach you at school.
These are the top five:
Email protocol: Although I know how to send an email, the world of who should be Cc’ed in and when (I am not even attempting Bcc’ing) is complex and certainly not something I’d ever had to do at school!
Phone call confidence: When people say my generation now can’t ring people up because we are so used to social media we have lost the skill, I get annoyed by the stereotype. However, when I was asked to ring up magazines about media buying I was very nervous, as this is something I’d never really had to do before – you can even book a haircut by text these days! But being thrown in at the deep end was brilliant and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it.
The other three skills I noticed are more about a way of working which was very foreign to me coming out of a school environment.
Working quickly: I studied design at school, but we would spend at least a term, so 12 weeks if not more, coming up with and developing an idea in response to a brief. At Fluid this process is hugely accelerated – we may come up with 3 ideas in a 20-minute meeting, and then independently develop them and then get back together and discuss and improve the ideas both with feedback from within Fluid and in discussion with the client. This process has taught me that more time is not necessarily better. You sometimes know immediately that an idea is not a good one, but because there were certain criteria you had to fulfil at school you would still spend weeks on these ideas, knowing you would later disregard them.
How to multitask: At school reading one book for English Literature can take six months! Whilst this is also time-related it means your sole focus is on one topic for an extended period. Whilst this can be good for an in-depth understanding, I have found at Fluid that I am often working on multiple projects for multiple clients in a day, and I actually prefer this style of working as it often prompts better, more engaged thinking as you are not stuck in one mindset.
Collaboration: Despite occasional group projects, collaboration is not well-founded in school education as the focus remains on individual exams. At Fluid, in contrast, collaboration is constant. Although one individual may lead a project, many people work together to produce the best possible output. Even the layout of the office promotes collaboration.
Many of these skills are actually what students want more of in school, and although the leap from school to a job can seem big, these skills are actually picked up quickly and seem more natural than the structured constraints of a school education. The jump is less big however if you have had a valuable work experience placement (or two!).