Parting With Your Student Book

Yesterday, LC posted a few very good questions:

“Once you’ve got a job, how long is it cool to keep student/spec work in there? And is it mandatory to put produced work in your book? What if you’ve done TV, but it isn’t anything of note. Having the experience is valuable to a potential employer, I’m sure. But what if the spot isn’t book-worthy?”

Keeping Student Work
After 8 years, I still have one student campaign in my book. I’m proud of it. I’ve been told by people I respect to keep it in. I’ve even tried (unsuccessfully) to sell it to the client to make it legitimate (and so I could enter it into award shows). It’s not a showcase piece anymore, but I still include it. That said, I think that’s pretty rare.

Produced Work vs. Spec
It’s not mandatory to put produced work in your book. I interviewed with Guy Seese when he was at Cole + Weber, and he said he thought it was cool that I had spec work in my book. When Mark Figliulo hired me at Y&R, it was partially because of the same spec campaign. That said, professional spec work looks much different than student spec work.

Putting Subpar TV on Your Reel
If you’ve done TV, but it isn’t anything of note, have a reel for it, but don’t tout it as “your reel.” If you show someone “your reel” and it’s full of impressive spots you’re communicating two things:

1) you think it’s work worth showing (bad)
2) you can’t sell a great idea to the client (even worse)

For my first two years at Y&R, I only did promotional TV for Sears. I had done over 50 spots where the main message was a laundry list of things like “Get 20% off sweaters!…All treadmills half off!…Plus free delivery on all home appliances over $299…Hurry! This sale won’t last long!” I had a ton of TV experience, and nothing on my reel to show for it.

But I did keep a CD of the work in case anyone asked. And in two interviews during that time, people did ask. It’s interesting to note I didn’t get either job (and because I ended up being able to do great work on Sears, I’m glad). TV experience is great. But only great TV experience is worth putting on your reel.

2 thoughts on “Parting With Your Student Book

  1. Cool. Is the Bic campaign your student campaign? I remember seeing it while at AdCenter. A certain professor brought it up during a particularly long session of reviewing thumbnails in class. That is definitely worth keeping. The sub-par TV I’m referring to is kin to your Sears stuff. Different name, same game.


  2. Yep. Bic, if you can believe it, was the second campaign I ever produced as a student. How’s that for beginner’s luck. Imdan Achda, who freelances in San Fran, is a brilliant art director who gets credit for that work.If I can dig up a Quicktime of my old Sears stuff, I’ll post it and you can tell me whether or not you’d include it on a reel. (The answer’s already no, but it might be good for some laughs.)


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