Advertising: A career for diverse thinkers and wonderful misfits

Why should you consider registering your agency for Advertising Unlocked 2024

Attending Advertising Unlocked in 2017 helped Will Nevill kick-start his career in the ad industry. Now an Account Director at The Gate, Will looks back at the experience and explains why speaking to the next generation of students at Advertising Unlocked every year is the best part of his job.

Advertising is a career for wonderful misfits, those who don’t often conform. It’s a creative industry that gives a home to diverse thinkers and problem solvers. Where young people’s skills are valued by the richness of their ideas, no matter who they are and what their background is. It’s a great leveller. There are so many exciting roles within the industry from creatives to strategists, to client services, who all come together to solve complex client challenges to create the advertising campaigns we all interact with every day as consumers. The problem is, so many young people simply don’t know about the industry and the jobs on offer.

I didn’t know about advertising as a career when I was at school. I had ok grades, but no real drive to pursue a traditional vocation. I tended to be disruptive in the classroom, whilst hyper-focusing on very niche topics and interests I found engaging and rewarding. I’d worked numerous jobs from retail to customer services, to sales, none of which I found practically fulfilling. A few years ago, I attended Advertising Unlocked, more out of curiosity than any expectation to find a long-term career, and within a year, I’d landed a job at the agency J. Walter Thompson and never looked back.

Opening eyes to a career they hadn’t considered

Advertising Unlocked is all about opening the eyes of students to a career they hadn’t considered before. During the day, students will experience the buzz of an agency office. They are an infectious place, full of energy, and lots of free food which always goes down well. But it’s so much more than that. Throughout the day students get to see some amazing work and the story behind well-known advertising campaigns. They will meet the people who made them, find out more about their job roles, their contribution to the creative process, and their career journeys into advertising which are often unconventional, unexpected, and inspiring. The aim is to show students just how varied a job in advertising can be and something they might not have previously considered as a career option.

The agencies will create a series of challenges and briefs for the students to tackle. This might even be a live brief for an existing client. They will have access to a range of agency tools and experts to create their own advertising campaigns and present them to the panel as well as their peers. They will be briefed to create anything from a TV ad to a social media campaign. The aim is to get their creative juices flowing, giving them a taste of the creative process and how ideas are created and translated into advertising campaigns for famous brands.

Advertising Unlocked convinced me that advertising is a place for creative thinkers who don’t want to conform to the rigidity of a normal job. Regardless of your academic prowess, if you’re curious, like creating ideas and telling stories, there is a job role to suit your strengths. You can spend your day solving problems and be paid for it.

Will Nevill, Account Director, The Gate

Since attending Advertising Unlocked, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world on shoots, experience new cultures, and meet a few celebrities on the way. The best part of my job, however, is speaking to the next generation of students at Advertising Unlocked every year, and fostering relationships with the students and the schools.

So why should you consider Advertising Unlocked?

We want students to be inspired to see the industry as a place where diverse thinkers and storytellers can thrive. Every day in advertising is different from the previous one. You can spend one day discussing music for an advert, the next negotiating with the agent of a well-known celebrity or becoming an overnight expert on AI. It’s an industry that can unlock their superpower if they’re yet to find it, especially for neuro-diverse students who might struggle with more a more traditional career path. Hopefully, they will end the day thinking 'this is a place I want to work and an industry I want to be part of', I know I did.


Since 2017, agencies across the country have welcomed nearly 10,000 school children and students for Advertising Unlocked open days giving them a practical insight into what working in adland is like. Advertising Unlocked 2024 takes place on Wednesday 13 November.

Register by Friday 3 May to open your doors to the next generation of talent. 


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 01 May 2024