For one week we are going to pay ‘an intern’ the salary of a creative director
Today arriving at work we were greeted by some news about an agency offering unpaid internships, which kind of bugged us.
Now this isn’t about throwing anyone under the bus or making folk feel bad. We don’t believe anyone goes out their way to be a dick or whatever but we got a bit annoyed at it and started chatting about why it bugged us so much.
As we talked through why it annoyed us so much we realised that it was because it wasn’t that far from our memory being that person affected by this. The person who has no money, no security and no way to know whether you are actually good enough to succeed at a dream. We’ve only been doing this job for 5 or 6 years, not that long. Recent enough that the memories of feeling a million miles from achieving something are still very vivid.
I can remember the week just before getting my ‘chance’ at The Leith Agency, I had fifteen pound in the bank and was running my car on fumes. The car ‘broke down’ in the city centre of Edinburgh, for ‘broke down’ read ran out of petrol. I then walked to the nearest petrol station and had to buy a petrol can for £7.50 and five pounds of petrol. Wonderful. Skint. At that point, walking back through Tolcross, with five pounds of unleaded sloshing at my side, I felt at my wits end and truly thought I was a complete fool for chasing something so elusive.
Attempting to do a job like this, of which I would describe as ‘highly competitive and much sought after’ is there is a constant nagging feeling of ‘what the fuck am I doing this for?’ and ‘someone like me isn’t going to make it’. It can take every ounce of your mental strength to keep going in the face of life’s obstacles.
I’m also aware though that it’s your choice to go after it and to be able to ‘go after a dream’ is in itself a privilege. I know that a career like this was not in anyway guaranteed to me, I grew up with two single parents, them both working stupid hours, my mum and I lived with my Auntie and I went to a school that wasn’t exactly Harvard. By no means was I poverty-ridden but I was neither from a gilded cage where a wander into the hallowed creative industries could ever be promised, or even for a long time, considered.
The day after petrol-gate, with £2.50 left in my bank account, I woke up to a call, a call from Gerry Farrell at The Leith Agency, he had seen a piece of work that I had posted and asked me to come in to see him. On the spot he offered me a ‘placement’. It would be for “one or two days to begin with and there was no guarantee it would lead to anything but of course it would be paid”
“It would be WHAT?”
I was ecstatic. Looking back, the money was nominal to Leith, probably what they spent on a weekly fruit basket for the staff but for me it was EVERYTHING!
It was the amount of money that I could live on for a week, It was enough money to eat that week, It was enough money to know that I was worth ‘something’ to them and it was enough money to say ‘I had a job’ not another ethereal hit and hope another wing and a prayer.
Enough money to call up my Mum and tell her ‘I had a job’ as a writer, a creative.
That feeling of being worth something was ‘worth’ way more.
Over these last few years, getting a permanent contract at The Leith Agency, then plucking up the courage to believe that there was a business model in selling creativity ourselves and setting up Studio Something we have continually battled and wrestled with that feeling of ‘ideas and creativity being something worth paying for’.
From challenging clients to pay for your time to justifying that although your job is fun it’s still at the end of the day, a job. Then learning the hard way that ‘babies, mortgages and weddings can’t be paid for with ‘experience’ we’ve learnt to trust ourselves and make sure we value the profession of creativity.
We realised this morning that we are incredibly lucky to be able to do that, to have found clients who don’t begrudge paying for creativity, and the only reason we can say that we are at this point is because a number of people didn’t think twice about paying us when they had the chance.
So, for that reason we decided we wanted to make a stand.
We will open up a job in our company, and that job will pay a young intern the exact salary of an average UK creative director for a week. On the back of a fag packet we worked that out at £45'000 a year, divided by 52 (you get paid holidays here) so that makes -
For a week. To come up with ideas. To attempt to use every ounce of your brain to come up with something people genuinely like.
Yes it’s a stunt, but it is a stunt to make a statement, a statement to young, ambitious, aspiring, hopeful but most likely terrified, freaked out, nervous young folk out there with a dream of doing this job for a living, to show that the only way into this industry isn’t by flogging yourself for free, hacking away at the bottom and having to bet the house on a chance of experience.
***So we just thought this thing up this morning, let us work out now how we do it, we’ll post soon soon about how to apply, to stay up to date join our mailing list here***
Studio Something is a creative agency on a mission, a mission to create one of the best companies in the world, by making things people genuinely like. This is a year of learning for us, If you would like to tell us why we are wrong, how we can improve, what we are doing right or if you too want to go on this mission. emailus. tweet us. Get on our mailing list. Whatever, just say hello.