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Into The Wild

26 Jan

This time last year I was preparing to finish my last year of design school. While most days were spent worrying about project deadlines and final presentations, I also remember being clouded by thoughts regarding what I was to do once I was forced to leave this comfy nest called art school. Where will I work? How will I get there? Where do I start?

A year later, now three weeks into my role as Art Director, I thought I’d look back at what I’ve learned since then and see if I can’t share it with the next crop of students. Having just gone into the wild – here are a few tips that worked for me and a few more I didn’t get the chance to try.


Often times people would say to me “Victoria is so small that all the good design jobs are taken”. The way I see it, the smaller the town the easier it should be to stand out amongst the crowd. So before you decide to pack up and move to that neighbouring metropolis, remember: you have to ability to make a mark in your small town, too. Find out exactly what your dream job is and make it your goal. Stay optimistic and keep focused. The unfortunate reality is that as time passes your competition will slowly drop out of the race. If you manage to outlast you’ll start to move up the ladder.


Don’t sit idle between dropping off resumes. Do something to get your work noticed. Start a design blog and post local content, re-design your school newsletter and offer to maintain it, pitch your designs to companies you admire. Take a chance and don’t be afraid to be shot down. Sure you could get rejected, and at first you probably will – but if you’re lucky you might at least gain a pro’s insight regarding your work. While these ideas might not get you paid, they’re all are great steps towards growing your portfolio with real world experience.


Don’t stress this one. Networking will come naturally, if you’re here reading this blog then you’re already doing it. Because most jobs aren’t advertised, networking can be your best bet to get your foot in the door. Consider a student membership to the Graphic Designers of Canada. Your local chapter has dozens of social events each year. Why not start by volunteering to check coats or take tickets at an event? These events are meant to be fun, so relax. Nobody’s there to interview you, try to have fun and enjoy yourself. Your personality should be on show, not your portfolio.


Get to know any potential employers in your area. Navigate your way through the company, introduce yourself to the staff, find out what the mood around the office is like. Now the fun part – don’t just tell potential employers that you’re creative, show them!  Go a step further by customizing a package based on what you’ve learned. Put aside the typical resume. Try a website, video or DVD portfolio.


Now is the perfect time to start seeking out internships, scholarships and awards. Internships are your best bet for work right now, it’s how mostly all designers start.

Check Applied Arts, Communication Arts and Adobe for student awards. They’re a great way to get regional and even worldwide recognition for your work. Another benefit of the GDC is that they’ll do much of the work for you. A student membership gives you access to up-to-date job/internship postings, scholarships and awards info.

Get yourself a website to showcase your work but keep it simple, and remember when it comes to a portfolio it’s always quality over quantity. Be sure to replace old pieces with new ones as your skills progress. And if your web skills aren’t up to snuff yet, there’s plenty of easy-to-use portfolio sites out there. Try Behance , Carbon Made or Cargo Collective.


You’d be surprised what opportunities that might arise from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t want to access all three. Each one is different, so learn which to use for particular content. They’re a great way to engage with people, and give them a reason to follow you. Share unique content specific to you: your opinions, your portfolio pieces, and discussions that you’re taking part in.

Thanks for reading, I hope that helps. I’ve included my icon pack for download if you’d like them for personal use. For now you can get to know us @YourCopeland. We love students.


Confessions of an Art Dork Intern

2 Nov

A guest post by our latest and greatest intern, Mia Watkins

Before I start gushing about the amazing-ness that is Copeland Communications and my intern experience I feel a little back-story is required.

I would like to start off with a run down of the thought process of your quintessential visual arts student who is halfway through their degree: “Alright! Let’s get this painting done…and this drawing…and that sculpture… hang on a sec, hold up, what the heck am I doing? Am I really a Visual Arts major? Maybe I should be rethinking this and asking myself what I actually expect to do with my life and how can I ensure that I get there!”

Now, as a result from this what-the-flip-am-I-going-to-do-with-this-degree personal crisis I decided that I seriously needed to falcon punch my career direction in the gut and thusly gave myself a kick in the pants towards the career counseling office at UVIC. Several career placement tests and academic advising appointments later I deduced that I was rather interested in business as well as art. Problem, they wanted me to take math, and various other smart people courses, this was an impossible for my art dork brain to comprehend and as such a compromise of a business minor was reached, because, that’s almost as good… right?

Whatever I was going to do with my life, it had to incorporate creativity and a balance of the business world and the art world. Art direction soon became a viable candidate and I realized that I had always been fascinated by the world of advertising. I was advised by the career discovery type people at UVIC to get out there and get in contact with actual, real life, Art Directors, and my “Victoria advertising agency” google search began.

My perusal was rather short lived as a result of Copeland’s kick ass website promptly halting my search in its tracks. A phone call away and I had set up a meeting with Michael Tension, Art Director at Copeland.  After meeting him I pretty well skipped down Government Street thinking, “holy cow that was great, I think I might like to do that when I grow up, but what can I do to get there?” Turns out there are these little things called internships, and it turns out Copeland likes them!

After I spent all summer literally dreaming about interning at Copeland I decided it was time to take action and contacted Doug Brown. To my surprise I was granted a meeting with him and I. Got. The. Job. What? Definitely left the office and did a little happy dance half a block away accompanied by the typical “I am a very excited girl” squeal.

So far everything about this internship has been awesome. After the interview I was set up with my own desk (awesome) as well as my own swivel chair (double awesome) in the creative department (the most awesome).

As I’m sure you are aware the Creative Department, or as I like to call it the Man Folk Department of Hilarious-ness, is a conglomeration of excellently talented and creative minds. Comprised of Senior Art Director Brad Felt, Art Director Michael Tension, and in digital,  Tom Hammarberg. These guys have been a great in helping a complete Adobe CS newb like myself develop a grasp of the programs that are the most essential for an aspiring art director to possess.

During my time working with these fantastic individuals I have acted as a sort of junior illustrator, using my arty student business to sketch concepts for logos, beer labels, and other projects, many of them curiously involving skeletons. In addition to this I have been pulled into creative briefs, brainstorms and client meetings. There has really been a “part of the group” feel to this internship which is greatly appreciated as it allows me to get a feel of what it might be like to work in this field for realsies. My opinions have been taken into account and everyone has been very encouraging of any input I may have to offer.

I still have two weeks or so left to my internship and I am very thankful for this opportunity knowing that I will walk away from this incredibly enlightening and valuable experience with a very positive outlook on the advertising industry. A thank you in is order to Doug Brown and everyone at the office, all of whom have made this experience supremely lovely.

Thanks guys!

If you like, you can follow me on Twitter at @MiaWat and check out my art stuff at

(Doug’s note: Mia was just awarded our Rock Star of the Week award for her amazing creative abilities and for being the best kind of art dork intern you could ever find.)

Tree planter to ad agency boss

18 Oct

(Guest post by our Managing Director 4 a Day winner Grace Campbell)

Copeland's Managing Director 4 a Day winner Grace Campbell of Royal RoadsThree months ago

I plant my 800,000th tree, pack up my tent, move to Victoria, and begin Royal Roads University’s Bachelor of Professional Communication Program. I have no Twitter account, no fixed address and no idea who Doug Brown or Copeland Communications are.

One month ago (to the day)

Doug visits Royal Roads to speak about online self-branding and invites my classmates and I to enter Copeland’s Boss 4 a Day contest. I immediately freak out about my lack of an online presence and my limited knowledge of social media. In a desperate attempt to prove (mostly to myself) that I haven’t “wasted” 5 years of my life planting trees I decide to enter a video in the contest.

Four days later

I create a Twitter account and use my first tweet to submit my video entry. I share it with friends and family on Facebook and YouTube just in case it goes somewhere.


Monday, September 26

I receive an email from Doug telling me that my video has been selected for the finals. I am so shocked that I forget to respond to his email. Doug has to email me back to confirm that I am still interested in the competition.

Tuesday, September 27

Boss 4 a Day contest goes to a live vote. I share it on Facebook and recruit my Royal Roads class of 39 students to my cause. I let the other finalists know that I am in it to win it!

Wednesday the 28th

Begin to use my new Twitter account to share my progress and keep followers (all 14 of them) updated on my progress.

Thursday the 29th

It becomes clear that Brandon Wright from University of Victoria and I are duking it out. So, I appeal to the Royal Roads community for support. I create little flyers with links to Copeland’s Facebook page that read:

Royal Roads University vs. UVIC


I hand 120 of these flyers out at the Royal Roads Fall Fair and make contacts within the three other on-campus cohorts to try and keep the buzz going.

I also create a Facebook group called “Grace Campbell Needs Some LOVE!” Strangely, this is my most successful campaign initiative, teaching me about the power of a simple slogan, no matter how desperate it seems.

The race is so tight that I begin to send personal emails asking for support.

Friday the 30th

I make sure to continue thanking all the friends, contacts, and organizations who have been supporting me. Even if I don’t win, I don’t want to be that annoying girl who asks people to vote for her and then is never heard from again.

3pm– Two hours of voting left and Brandon is 19 votes ahead. As my classmates head to the pub I ask one last time for their help and hunker down with my laptop in the now-empty classroom to virtually battle it out.

4pm– I can’t seem to catch up to Brandon. I send Doug an email saying, “I am chugging water right now to replace the fluids I have lost from sweating and the fluids I might lose from crying.”

4:55pm– My classmates are sitting in a pub with their laptops out, frantically trying to keep me in the lead. I now know exactly what “Too close for comfort” feels like, because I have been uncomfortable for hours.

5pm– I have no idea who has won, but I can’t take the stress any longer. I phone Copeland and beg for the results. 4 votes. I won by 4 votes out of over 1400. I am exhausted.


1. Appreciation for the value of both in-person and online networks.

I had no idea I had such an amazing network that would readily support me and share their influence. At first, my personal sphere of influence seemed small, but through social media and extended networks I had votes from Chicago, Korea, South Africa, Costa Rica, and beyond!

2. Importance of knowing my audience.

I had to learn quickly how to frame this contest in a variety of ways depending on my audience.

For example, with the tree-planting community I framed it as a chance for us planters to prove that we are not wasting our lives doing something we love!  But for the Royal Roads community, I positioned it as a David vs. Goliath story, in which we needed to prove to UVIC that we were worth competing against.

3. I don’t regret a single day spent tree-planting.

This competition was both rewarding and exhausting, a combination that all tree-planters are familiar with. The feeling of trailing by 19 votes with only two hours left is not so different from the feeling of facing nine hours of outdoor labour, knowing that the forecast is sleet and a grizzly bear has been sighted in the area. Both situations seem insurmountable. Both situations are entirely worth the effort.

Even if I hadn’t won in the polls, I learned so much more about marketing myself in four crazy days than I thought I could learn in months.

What about you? Have you ever faced a steep learning curve and decided to charge at it full speed? How did it work out?

(NOTE: Grace enjoyed her day of tyrannical rule yesterday, October 17. She was spectacular!)

Vote for the best candidate to be our Managing Director 4 a Day

27 Sep

We are full of admiration for the creativity and effort that went into the entries for our Managing Director 4 a Day student contest.

With the help of our judges, Kathi Springer of The Pace Group and Brian Hartz of Douglas Magazine, we have narrowed the list down to 3 finalists:




Cast your vote

To see their video entries and vote for your favourite, please go to the Copeland Facebook page here.

Who makes the most convincing case for themselves?

Let us know. The winner will get to be our boss for a day, and collect $500 on her/his way out the door.

Full respect to all the remarkable students who took part in this contest.

Contest Update: Be our Boss 4 a Day

25 Sep

Our contest to be our Managing Director 4 A Day wrapped up last Friday afternoon and we are thrilled to share with you the names of the students who entered, in the order their entries were received:

Connor Bildfell – University of Victoria
David Lin – University of Victoria
Alex Rabu – Camosun College
Simonas Uzdavinys – Camosun College
Rebecca Staynor – University of Victoria
Grace Campbell – Royal Roads University
Chelsey Smith – Royals Roads University
Brandon Wright – University of Victoria
Fulya Ozkul – Royal Roads University
Stefanie Watchman – Pacific Design Academy
Phil Sutton – Camosun College
Wesley Yu – Camosun College
Darragh Grove-White – Camosun College

The standard of the entries was amazing and finding 3 finalists will be a task and a half.

Brian Hartz editor of Douglas MagazineKathi Springer of The Pace GroupFortunately, we have help! Kathi Springer, PR specialist and the VP Communications and Corporate Relations at The Pace Group, and Brian Hartz, the editor of Douglas Magazine, have offered to assist in the judging.

On Wednesday we will announce the 3 finalists and conduct a vote on our Facebook page until Friday at 5PM.

We wondered if the applications would come anywhere near the quality we saw during our Zombie Internship Contest in March. The answer is a resounding YES. Wait until you see them!

Thank you to all these fantastic students.

The perfect application letter to get a job in advertising

30 Apr


I’m an MBA student at (edited) and I am drawn to the business development side of advertising.

While I was researching your business, I noticed that you don’t currently have a hotel within your client list.

I also discovered that there are currently three major independent hotels in town that are undergoing substantial renovations. I approached the director of sales/marketing for each of these hotels and learned that two currently use an advertising agency. The third does its advertising in-house.

Since the post-renovation period is critical for a hotel in terms of communicating those changes to the market, I enquired of the third hotel whether they would consider assistance to re-launch their property. I was told it was certainly an option.

I would like to present this hotel, and the name of the marketing director, to you as a new business prospect.


(A student)

What is our obligation to students?

26 Apr

Over the past month, we have profiled 6 remarkable local students here on the blog. (Click on a photo to read the post.)

But it simply isn’t enough to acknowledge great students.

As a business community, we have to support them on an ongoing basis as they get their sea legs in the professional world.

Not just this tremendous group, but students period.

Here’s how we can do that:

  • Follow them on Twitter.
  • Connect with them at networking events. Invite them to join you at one.
  • Read their blog posts, comment on them and share them.
  • Check out their Linkedin profiles.
  • Point them in the direction of opportunities you hear of.
  • Recommend them.
  • Offer to meet with them to find out how you might be able to help.
  • Mentor them.
  • Introduce them to people who could benefit them.
  • Offer to speak at their schools.
  • Invite them in to your business as interns.

Most importantly, we need to make this a regular part of how we work. These 6 top students are just the tip of an iceberg flowing out of our schools and into our work force.  I could have written dozens of profiles. Who are their advocates in the community if not us?

We are all students at some stage making the transition into the working world.

What are you doing for a student this week?