By John Cepeda, Apprentice at Ogilvy UK


Where it all started

Throughout my school life, I always believed that hard work and good grades would get you everywhere. Like most students, I chose my A-level subjects based on what other people thought would be good for me as well as what I thought would get me the highest paid job.

I ended up choosing Maths, Computing, Economics, Biology and Spanish and to be honest I didn’t really know where these subjects would take me in future. After a term doing these subjects, I decided that these were not for me and changed to do Media Studies, Spanish and Computing.

I am a creative individual who also likes business; however, I found the subjects I chose to be too corporate and boring. From that moment forward I decided to make decisions based on what I like rather than what people were telling me to do. University was something I never wanted to go to, I was tired of learning theory from books and wanted to learn whilst actually doing something in the working world.

The careers advice in school was very outdated and focused on the usual paths like accounting, medicine or law roles. For the older generation, it was all about university and the view was that you would be set for life with a degree; whereas, if you weren’t in university people wouldn’t take you seriously.

Apprenticeships were an option, but people didn’t really think they were beneficial. Uptree came into my school to give a talk about Apprenticeships and career advice post-school. I found this talk very interesting as through Uptree I would be able to explore different industries.

Open doors

My knowledge of the advertising/marketing industry was very basic and I didn’t really know all the roles that were available. Through several insight days, I began to learn more about the roles within advertising and what each of them does. 

I began applying for different apprenticeships however, I was constantly getting rejected due to a lack of creative subjects I had studied. Even though I never planned on going to university, I ended up applying for an advertising and design course because I had not been accepted on any apprenticeship job opportunities. My plan from day one was to study at university but during the year I continued applying to different apprenticeship roles as I didn’t want to carry on for more than a year.

I found out about the Ogilvy opportunity through Uptree and applied straight away, I knew about Ogilvy through university and knew it would be a great opportunity. I was invited to an assessment day along with several others and participated in speed interviews as well as answering a brief in teams and presenting to all the ad people in the building. I knew that an apprenticeship at Ogilvy would be better than going to university as the industry is always changing and Ogilvy is a global brand that everyone knows so choosing this opportunity over university was a no-brainer.

I was accepted onto the Apprenticeship and have been at Ogilvy for three months. Every day is an opportunity to learn and I am enjoying working life here at Ogilvy and look forward to the next year.

Final words

From my experience and countless rejections, I learnt that having real-life experiences within any industry is more valuable than a grade at university or school. My advice to young people would be to follow what you like doing and try and experience as many careers as possible by attending insight days or any work experience opportunities.

Applying for opportunities is all a numbers game, the more places you apply to the better the chance of being accepted. It all comes down to you reaching out to agencies, attending insight days and being proactive.