Just before graduating college, I registered for a copywriting course at AdHouse–an amazing little ad school in NYC. Today, I’d like to take a moment to praise the wonders of continued education, and how it helped me become a more interesting and competitive professional.
If you’ve written class off, thinking “no time!” or “no money!” or simply “not interested!” you should know: taking class looks darn good on your resume, and makes you more desirable to prospective employers, or to your current one. You can also work around financial constraints by applying for student aid via FAFSA, by researching grants, or by asking your employer if they’ll cover tuition (after all, it’s making you smarter).
With myriad options online and in-person throughout the year, there’s no reason not to get on board the continued ed express!
So without further ado, here’s a little about my experience and what I got out of it:
First off, a day in the life:
It’s 6:30. My fellow students and I are busy taping fake Wendy’s ads on the walls.
Our teacher, Paul, hurries in a few minutes late. Apologies ensue — he’s working hard to make Dos Equis’ new Most Interesting Man as likable as his predecessor.
Paul is an advertising big-shot.
I pitch my copy and (heavily lacking) stick figure “art direction” to Paul.
Paul fires away: “What do you like/dislike about this campaign?”…“How can you make this more specific to Wendy’s brand?”…“Steer clear of puns…unless they work, then use them. I love to contradict myself!”…Etc.
Now, down to the goods:
If you’re wondering, why pay for a class when you can just read about copywriting? Why pay for class when there’s so much to learn on YouTube? Why pay for class when you can get portfolio feedback on Quora?
I’ll tell you why.
Maybe you have endless willpower or are a close relative of David Ogilvy. If so, you can stop reading this article, buy yourself a DIY-portfolio guide like The Copywriting Handbook (you should do this anyway) and crowdsource on Quora.
But if, like me, you need to structure your side-hustle — if, like me, you’re eager to canoodle with industry big-shots and up-and-comers, here’s how taking a class will help:
You’ll Do The Work (Hopefully)
Practice makes perfect, and a class gives you an incentive to practice. As a current or aspiring designer, writer, marketer or other creative, you’ll find it easier to carve out time to create original content when working you’re toward a deadline.
Ultimately, however, it’s up to you to do the homework.
As Paul points out: “Don’t do it? Don’t learn.”
Real, Honest Feedback
For all it’s wonders, Quora will never provide you with the quality feedback you’ll receive in class. If you or your company are willing to invest in continued education, you’ll find that in-person feedback allows for a more fluid and nuanced conversation and, in turn, a better revision of your work.
Paul often remarks that feedback is fundamentally a conversation.
As we discuss and iterate, our ideas evolve, much like they would in a real creatives’ room — a process which is neither efficient nor entirely possible online.
You may be trying to break into a dog-eat-dog industry, but in class, everyone is in it together. It’s not only a chance to learn, but to network. Reciprocate the kindness and helpful feedback of your peers.
Before you know it, you have a new, awesome continuing ed squad.
Meet the Competition
Sure, you’re all in it together. But you’re also competing for similar positions.
Most businesses would pay good money to know how the competition thinks. Why not do it yourself? Odds are your classmates will look at projects from a different angle than you will. Go find out what it is!
You Won’t Plateau
Killing it at your job? Congrats. Ready to take it to the #nextlevel? Continuing education keeps you from plateauing, creatively and professionally. You’ll face interesting, new challenges that will keep you smart and help you bring fresh eyes to old tasks.
Did somebody say “promotion“?
Build A #Network
Teachers can be some of the brightest/most successful people in the business (they’re teaching about it, aren’t they?!), so be smart and save their email/number/Twitter/LinkedIn/Facebook and… stay in touch.
I also saved the emails of all my peers, so I can hit them up if one of them becomes the next David Ogilvy.
Decided that class after college is awesome?
Great! You may stop reading this article and start researching classes near you. But before you go, I’ll leave you with this quote from my homie Ben Frankie: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”