5 reasons why portfolio school is completely worth it

Here’s the thing: everything has pros and cons. Nothing’s going to be worth 100% of the time. Sometimes you’ll try something out, and it just won’t be for you.

But other times, it will be.

We want to look past the pain and doubt that comes with going to any school, and talk about the good, shiny, sparkly side portfolio school (we’ll cover the bad later, of course, maybe next week when I’m in a shittier mood).

Here are five reasons why portfolio school is the literal shit:

1. You’ll actually learn stuff


I know. It’s crazy. But after earning a fancy, massively expensive four-year college degree, and then ditching academia completely to join a two-year “idea” school, I think I still learned more with the latter.

At portfolio school, you’ll learn the Adobe Suite program basics. You’ll learn writing basics, photography basics, and design basics.

But then, they teach you how to concept, how to get over your fear of presenting shit, and how to fudge a campaign out of thin air.

And if you’re smart and you care, you’ll apply to advertising contests, and do a lot more work than your teachers assign you (because it’s actually fun), and you’ll become an Adobe master.

But more importantly, you’ll learn how to pitch ideas, build a campaign out of nothing and how to fudge your way through anything. These are real life skills that college just doesn’t seem to teach you. Through this short program, you’ll become a scrappy, business savvy “professional.” And by professional we mean a hack disguised as someone who knows what they’re doing (AKA EVERYONE WITH A JOB OOPS WE GAVE IT AWAY)


2. You get to experiment

Portfolio school is the only time you’ll get to do whatever you want without a client defecating all over it, so take advantage of it and go completely berserk. Seriously.

Get into body painting if it floats your boat, curse as much as you can and make stupid videos that question your sanity.

And by the end of two years, you’ll hopefully be a crazier, happier and freer version of who you were before.


3. You make connections

This is what will get you hired. But even if you don’t want that, these portfolio school connections are vital to whatever you do. Portfolio school classes are taught by industry professionals, and many of your peers will be interesting specimen who ran away from their lives to come up with weird ideas. So whether you start a business, change careers completely or join a cult on a remote island, chances are these contacts will come in handy one day.

For instance, I know a girl who graduated and then to joined a traveling circus in Mexico. She’s still in the circus, and I still keep in touch with her. Because you just never know.


4. You don’t need to graduate to get a job

This is the best part. Unlike an undergrad degree that you apparently “need” to get a boring sales job (and drown in a sea of debt), the advertising industry could care less. Of course, this is both good and bad because now I feel like an idiot who wasted four years throwing money into a pit filled with smelly freshman and cheap beer.

Aside from that, though, you can freelance while you’re in school to make extra cash. Or quit school early if a company deems you worthy of a job. Or quit again and start your own business. It’s a great feeling to not be tied down to a degree, despite what your parents might tell you. (For the last time ma, I never got a master’s).

However, there are portfolio schools (like VCU and a specific Miami Ad School degree), that will give you a master’s. But let’s be honest, you only want that to shut your parents up.


5. Portfolio School is actually fun

Portfolio school is a lot of work sometimes. But the good thing is it’s really, really fun.

If you go to Miami Ad School, you get to travel around the world doing internships. A couple of our writers did internships in Tokyo, Amsterdam, Australia, Miami, New York, LA, and Hong Kong. It’s insane.

But whatever portfolio school you go to, you’ll have a hell of a time. You’ll make connections that will last a lifetime, you’ll travel and work in places you never knew existed, and you’ll never be able to fully explain to your mom what exactly it is you do.

How much do agencies pay??

Let's talk about something that's actually useful to you: salaries. 

I have no idea why there's so much stigma around this topic, but it needs to end. Students have the right to know how much they'll be making without people accusing them of "selling out" and "only caring about money." Fuck that. Money pays for beer.

It's also dangerous for you guys to go in blind and potentially be taken advantage of and underpaid. So here are some salary stats from a 2015 salary survey by VCU:

As you can see, as a junior CW or AD (copywriter and art director), you seem to earn an average of $49-50k per year. But fear not! Life gets better. Also you can make bank if you freelance.

View the full survey on VCU's website. Thanks for being awesome VCU!

And thank you for being awesome, little shits. Now go forth and prosper. Literally. 


Q&A times

Jereek asks:

"What was your overall experience like getting your first job?"

Hi Jereek. Nice to comment with you.

Work is slow today, so I'll give you the long answer. 

Little bit of background on me:

I'm from suburban Canada. I played competitive tennis my whole life but somewhere deep down inside me I always wanted to make ads for toilet paper. Just kidding, I wanted to write the next great Canadian novel and then sell out in L.A. by age 25, but I did occasionally see an ad on TV that would make me say "I wonder who thought of that."

And so I ventured out into the world (a small, private university in the middle of nowhere) on a tennis scholarship and majored in journalism and marketing. It was fun for a while until I realized I really, truly hated journalism and marketing. So I panicked, spinning out into a void of self-doubt and sadness. Where had the young, carefree creative writer I once knew disappeared to? Had I lost all childhood innocence? And why hadn't the care package my mom sent two weeks ago arrived yet? It was trying times.

But then finally, one day it happened. I got up the courage to walk up and tell my journalism professor I wanted to take a creative writing course and he said, "cool, the creative writing prof is over there. Go say hi." So I did and he gave me a class syllabus and then he mentioned he ran an advertising club and I could do creative writing there, too. Then I graduated and I realized copywriting was my long lost soul mate and that I really truly wanted to write toilet paper ads, like, for real, so he said you should go to portfolio school. So I applied to Miami Ad School and VCU and I chose Miami Ad School. Just kidding, I didn't get into VCU. Might have had something to do with my GMAT scores that I may or may not have studied for but anyways let's move on. 

Miami Ad School has a crazy internship program where you can intern all over the world. So I applied and was accepted to intern at Ogilvy Tokyo then JWT Australia and then voila, Droga5 NYC. I'm glazing over a few details here but I have a meeting at 5pm. I should mention, though, I met my AD partner at Miami Ad School and we traveled together and we had matching portfolios and it was beautiful. It also helped us get an internship at Droga because he was a great AD and coded / animated our portfolio like magic so word to the wise, if you find a partner you like, stick together. 

We worked our little butts off when we got to Droga, because it's awesome here and we were like, uh, no we aren't leaving. Ever. But I'm Canadian and he's Indian and we both needed visas so we worked twice as hard to ask for work and get noticed. And somehow, it worked. It wasn't easy and there were tears and sweat and exhaustion and way, way too many burritos but in the end, we made it. 

Details of getting a Visa as an international student will be addressed in another post. So will interning, because even though it sucks and you're broke for a while it's still a great way to get that foot in that door. Also, free dinner. 

k bye for now.