17 May 2022

The world of branding, marketing, promotion and creative messaging came to life for 16 students from the University of East London as part of an exciting partnership with a multinational communication company.

The students tackled real-world challenges to experience what a career in various strands of the communications sector would be like.

As part of UEL's Diversity of Thought Employer Partnership programme, the 16 were invited along to the Thames-side offices of VMLY&R, a subsidiary of WPP, a leading creative agency, where they learnt about the value of data and customer relations, and developed ideas and pitches - all the time with experts from the company on hand to provide insight and experience.

For some students, this provided an opportunity to think again about their career choices, as they came from disciplines as diverse as mechanical engineering, politics and fine art, as well as the more traditional routes of media relations and marketing.

Students at the WPP offices


Folashade Borishade, who is taking a BA (Hons) in Film, said, "I loved every moment of the day. The insight into the company and its departments was detailed and it was really engaging.

"We had two workshops with two real-life briefs to work on. This gave us the chance to experience the thought process and strategies behind creating campaigns. I came with the mindset of seeking to be in the creative production department and I have even more certainty about that decision."

Sindy Reyes, who is studying fashion marketing, said, "I really enjoyed the experience so much. Being able to connect with people from the industry and discover what the different roles entail, it was truly an incredible experience.

"I discovered what is behind every job and how these professionals talk with so much passion about their jobs - it really inspired me."

Samara Grandison, who is taking a BA (Hons) in Advertising, said, "I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I found that it was insightful and engaging. 

"During the day we did a few activities which included coming up with pitch ideas in small groups and sharing them with the rest of the groups. This was something I enjoyed because it helped me to be more confident in my own ideas. 

"The day went above my expectations and really helped me to make up my mind about my creative career path so I am very grateful for the opportunity."

While the workshops - which focussed on WPP client Ford of Europe - were just theoretical, they might turn into reality for any candidates who are picked for WPP's intern programme. This might see them supporting WPP's work for Ford at the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed in June.

For WPP, this was an opportunity to call on a new range of voices and life experiences

Michael Ludlow, talent acquisition director, helped organise the day along with UEL's careers team. He said, "What we're trying to do is get the students involved in tasks and experience across all areas, inspiring them to undertake all these different challenges and then work with them to discover where they fit best.

"It takes all sorts of minds, personalities and skill sets to make advertising agencies work - it's not one size fits all. In fact, we want as diverse a range of thinking and different types of people as possible.

"What we're really looking is the ability to collaborate, offer ideas, and show motivation. Students must be keen to explore new things and be able to communicate their ideas effectively.

"We market and create advertising campaigns across the world and to do that we people from all backgrounds offering authentic voices and varied life experiences. That's why there is such synergy with the University of East London’s Diversity of Thought programme and the demographic of UEL."

Cherise Basslian, director of UEL's Career Zone, said, "The Diversity of Thought Employer Partnership benefits both employers we work with as well as our students. Employers gain a competitive edge by recruiting diverse thinkers with different viewpoints based on different life experiences. And students gain valuable work experience.

"The aim is that employers will provide UEL students with a bespoke pathway of engagement, involving mentoring and work experience, and capacity to provide support. In turn, our students offer a unique perspective and boundless enthusiasm and creativity."

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