Please note that the deadline for applications has now passed.
Successful applicants will be contacted as per the dates set out in the briefing document, which we have kept below for your reference.
Good luck to all of our applicants this year!
Every year we bring in a new wave of fresh talent to our creative, client management and strategy teams, and for 2021 we’re excited to share the details and officially launch The Start, our London Studio’s brand new junior programme.
With a mix of paid placements and opportunities up for grabs across different teams, and the potential for a full-time role at the end of it, The Start replaces our previous Client Servicing & Strategy graduate scheme and our Dog’s Bollocks Student Awards design competition, and it’s open to anyone at the start of their career in creative, design, client management or strategy.
We’re pleased to be partnering with The Guardian to set a brief for applicants to show us what they can do: Change the world.
In short, we’re asking applicants to select an article from the first issue of The Guardian this year (you’ll find access to this in the briefing document), choose a brand you feel passionate about, and deliver a response that takes either a Creative, Client Management or Strategy pathway.
You’ll find all of the information and guidance you need in the briefing document PDF below – click the following image to open it up (note: this will open in a new tab or browser, so check your browser permissions if it doesn’t work first time):
The deadline for applications was Sunday 31st May. We are no longer accepting applications.
Got a burning question? Check our FAQs below…
General Application Questions
Can I apply while I am still studying?
Yes, but only if you are in your final year of study! The programme is designed to set people up for a full-time career at the end of it, so if you are about to graduate and looking to start a career in the creative industry then this one is for you! If you’re in the middle of a degree, then we’ll be ready and waiting for your application in your final year.
I graduated last June, would I qualify to enter ‘The Start’ or is it 2021 graduates only?
Yes, we are accepting graduates from 2020 and 2021, as well as people without a university degree at the start of their career in the creative industry.
Do I have to have a degree to apply?
Not at all, as long as you’ve got talent, ambition, and you’re at the start of your career in the brand design industry, we’d love to see how you approach the brief.
Is ‘The Start’ available for International applicants?
The Start is based in our London Studio so we can only accept applications from people who have the right to work in the UK. Unfortunately we can’t support any visa sponsorship at this time.
Can applicants be remote, or do you have to be in London?
Whilst we are mostly working from home at the moment, this programme is run by our London Studio and the intention is that these people will be based there once we are all able to be back together in person, so applicants should be based in London or within a commutable distance.
When will decisions on the position be made?
For the Creative, judging will take place in the summer and the 4 winners will be notified once this is complete to arrange the initial placements.
For the Client Management and Strategy, shortlisted applicants will be notified in June with first and second round interviews taking place throughout June and July. A decision on the 2 successful candidates will be made at the end of July with a start date in September.
Questions about the brief
Should the project be about the article/headline, or just inspired by it?
It’s up to you how far you want to take your inspiration from The Guardian, just make sure that the idea connects back to your chosen article or headline in a tangible way, and that you communicate clearly the question or challenge you identified from it, and how you have answered it.
Where is a good place to look for consumer insights and trends?
There are lots of places to look for inspiration, but here are a few free resources that we love:
Do I have to submit a presentation?
No, it’s completely up to you how you want to present your response to the brief. It could be a film, a written piece or something more creative – we want to be inspired, so show us how you do that best! A presentation is also fine, of course!
How can I stand out?
We want to be inspired so start with a great idea – something we’ve not seen before, something we wish we had thought of – and then take us on a journey through your storytelling. Make sure to pay close attention to the judgement criteria in the briefing document when putting your response together as this will give you a good idea of what the judges will be looking for.
Beyond your response to the brief, tell us something beyond your work. We’re deeply invested and interested our people, so we want to know you beyond your skills, too. What are you passionate about? Climate change? Women’s rights? Upcycling? Going to space? Raising llamas? Tell us.
Questions about the Creative pathway
For the creative brief, can we enter as a pair?
If you’re entering the Creative brief then yes, you can enter as a pair. However, if your entry is successful then you’ll be assessed individually for the placement and future role opportunity.
Would you prefer to mock-ups, or are sketches fine as long as they show the idea?
Having a great idea is really important for this brief and we love seeing sketches, especially when it shows us how your brain works and how you arrived at your solutions. But we also want to see how you articulate your idea through execution and crafting, so think about the best way to demonstrate these skills in your response. You’ll find our judgement criteria in the briefing document.
If you had to pick, what’s more important: the craft or the idea?
Both are important. In great work, it is difficult for one to exist without the other. But if we really had to pick… the idea. Crafting skills can be learnt and honed but starting with a really great idea will help you get our judges’ attention.
Is graphic design the field you are predominately looking for or is there an opportunity for a 3D outcome?
We’re always on the lookout for great talent and our Studio is made up of a mix of brand creatives across 2D and 3D design, motion graphics and animation, CGI and beyond so we’re open to different interpretations of the creative brief – show us your skills! In fact, we recently interviewed Adam, who is a Motion Designer, to share some insight into life in the Studio and how different creative disciplines work with the wider team.
Choosing between the Client Management and Strategy pathways
How do I decide between Client Management or Strategy? Do they cross-over?
There are some similarities, but typically Strategy is about developing insights and digging deeper to simplify, clarify and inspire clients and creatives, whereas Client Management is about leading teams, building relationships with clients, driving projects forward and making things happen! If you want to dig a bit deeper into what the day-to-day job is all about, check out our interviews with Brand Strategist Hannah, and Ellie, who is a Client Manager.
Do I need to have studied a specific degree to apply for Client Management or Strategy?
No, not at all. People in our Client Management and Strategy teams have come from all sorts of backgrounds – we’ve got designers, psychologists, economists, you name it! As long as you have a keen eye for creativity, show us what you can bring to the team you choose.
Questions about the Client Management pathway
What is a day in the life for a Client Manager like?
The great thing about being a Client Manager is that no 2 days are the same. In the fast-paced world of our clients we have different requests coming in all the time. Ultimately, the bulk of the day is made up of overseeing projects and ensuring that they are running smoothly, making sure that all budgets are signed off, and that our Strategy and Creative team have what they need to do their work. Sprinkle in some client meetings, team catch ups, creative briefings and work reviews, maybe a birthday celebration (with cake, of course), and you have your day! You can find out more about the day-to-day in Ellie’s interview here.
What will my responsibilities be on the Client Management pathway?
As your confidence in the role grows your responsibilities will change over time. You’ll be working in a close-knit team so your responsibilities will range from shadowing and supporting on the day-to-day needs of your team to running your own projects (with the support of more senior people, of course).
Do I need any background knowledge to be a Client Manager?
You’ll learn everything you need to know on the job, and you will have members of your team to support you. However, it is important that you are organised as you’ll be working across different projects.
Do I need any customer service experience to apply?
Not necessarily. We’re looking for people who are active listeners, great communicators, patient and, above all else, friendly and nice to be around – we don’t expect everyone to have official work experience in these areas.
What types of tasks will clients require me to do?
It’s less about what the clients ask for, more about what the requirements of the project are. For example, if we are briefed to design packaging concepts, your tasks may include: letting clients know when they’ll receive the work, writing a brief for the design team, organising team reviews, making sure the creative team have all the files they need, and so on.
How many projects will I be working across at one time?
You’ll start by helping out on a few projects (one or two) depending on what is happening with the clients your team looks after. Over time you will be spread across different projects, both big and small, so that you can learn about all the different aspects of work we do.
How can I make my application for the client management pathway stand out?
We are looking for someone who can form great relationships and has a good eye for opportunities. So, can you let your personality shine through as well as display your sense of curiosity?
Questions about the Strategy pathway
What makes a good Strategist?
A good Strategist is guided by their intuition; curious about really getting under the skin of a challenge, an excellent listener and a great communicator who can simplify the logic and inspire some creative magic!
How do Strategists work with clients and creative teams?
Strategists help to clarify the opportunity for clients and creatives, working flexibly between the two to build a strong direction for design that will deliver.
Are Strategists creative?
Yes! Strategists often work with clients to define the opportunity for the brand and inspire the direction for design – creativity is always at the heart, not just delivering on the detail but stepping back and joining up the dots in the bigger picture.
Is being a Strategist varied in the day-to-day?
Absolutely, no day is the same! Whether it’s working on different brands or different tasks for the same brand, each come with their own challenge to deliver a point of view on. In fact, we recently interviewed Hannah, a Brand Strategist, to tell you more about it.
For the Strategy brief, what format or style are you expecting for the outcome? Is it more like a PDF presentation of research and initial design ideas to be presented to the potential client?
A PDF is fine. Keep in mind this brief is about inspiring internal teams of designers first, clients would only see this deck once designs were done by our studio.
How much of the actual branding design are we meant to do for this brief, or is it purely research and a write up of a proposed design idea as opposed to actually designing it?
We don’t ask for designs or design work for the Strategy pathway, but you can make the layout of your deck as designed as you like. The brief asks for creative thinking, so think about how best to show that. It could be through written statements, mood boards, a video, user storyboards, etc. Explore what you think helps tell your story best and what would inspire a creative team in our Studio, and then maybe test it out by presenting it to your friends and family or fellow design students. The goal is always to simplify, clarify and inspire!