An exploration of the ad world and the way that junior strategists are currently viewed within the industry.
Text of The Junior Reverse Mentorship Model
THE JUNIOR STRATEGISTREVERSE MENTORSHIP MODEL -Chelsea Jennings
PROBLEMThe Junior Strategist or Junior Account Planner is a rare rolein the ad world.Many agencies will forgo having this position at all and willinstead hire only mid-level to senior planners who can still behired at a competitive price and will be immediately profitable tothe agency because of their experience.
REASONING?Many agencies dont have the mentoring power in their planning departments to bringon entry-level talent.These agencies know they cant hire junior level strategists because they simply donthave the time to allow for day-to-day management and oversight.
THERES SOME DISCUSSION Hire more juniors. If youre willing to shepherd them just a little, the returns are as massive as penny stocks or Seattle. -Anthony Kalamut, Professor | Program Chair of Creative Advertising and Seneca College School of Communication ArtsBut even so, people do admit that, despite the value of the junior, a certain amount of mentorship is involved.
INSIGHT There will always be an overwhelming desire for employees that come in every day with fresh ideas, curiosity, and the drive to work hard. Most can agree that no matter what industry someone is in, after a certain number of years people lose a bit of that initial passion. Even people who love their jobs become jaded on a certain level."Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted." Stefan Sagmeister co-founder of Sagmeister & Walsh
SO REALLY...Juniors do in fact need mentoring, but the people whohave been in the game for years need it too.These mid-level to senior planners need a boost, a kickin the pants if you will. They need people to walk in everyday that are fresh, ambitious. People who will keep themon their toes.
STRATEGY: REVERSE MENTORSHIPHire juniors with the idea in mind that they will also be mentoring the planningdepartment. By becoming the mentors, they elevate the department and learn by doingand teaching. The relationship between experienced planners and juniors then becomesmutually beneficial.Their ambition and energy will push everyone in the department to work harder, smarter,and with a sense of renewed perspective.The future rests on collaborative power that is, theintegration of empowered newcomers into the decision-making process. -World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab
INEXPERIENCE=AMBITION Juniors are self starters by nature. What they lack in experience they make up for in tenacity that is often powered by smart thinking and creativity. These are qualities that aspiring juniors possess that everyone can learn and benefit from.I have found just being around young people, without judgment regarding age or naivety,you will be impacted by them and all that energy and creativity will start to wear off onyou. As a result you will find you are more excited about and invested in your own work.This type of payoff is not easily measured. We are at a moment in time where we need totake a leap offaith. -Morgan Hunter, President of Meramec Consulting,Inc
SOME THOUGHTSTo him [PJ Pereira] and to me, itsimportant to support youngadlanders...for many reasons.On a macro level its important because our industryneeds new energy, new ideas and new enthusiasmthat pushes the established players to be even better attheir game.On a micro level young talent means that there arenew ideas in agencies for clients needing solutions,and it ensures that salaries dont keep going up andup and up. -Scott Goodson, founder and CEO of StrawberryFrog
JUNIORS ARE NAIVE- AND THIS IS A GOOD THINGBeing naive leads to being curious, which leads to working your butt off so you can find the answers. But rather than pretending to have all the answers, (which can lead to arrogance and an ego, things that no junior should have), aspiring juniors should own their inexperience and cherish the fact that they are still nimble and eager. This eagerness to learn and desire to be better are the qualities that experienced strategists need to be mentored in. "An expert is someone who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field" Niels Bohr // Danish physicist Nobel // Prize winner
Young is an outlook our industryhas always leaned on and now more than ever the right mix of young and stupid might make you the smartest person in the room.-Dan Viens, Digital Strategist at Wieden+Kennedy
IDEAS FOR IMPLEMENTATION Have juniors host and lead discussions either online or at the agency. Have juniors review of work of that is being produced by the planning department. Have juniors create assignments that other planners work on and submit- (similar to Rob Campbells Planning School on the Web.)Have juniors peer review- have a group of junior strategists meet and review each others work.