“My time at DNA 2023 was a fantastic experience. We worked on live briefs and even pitched ideas directly to clients. I highly recommend DNA to future students. Thank you for introducing me to the exciting world of advertising and marketing.”
Phoebe Henderson, DNA 2023 graduate
We always knew that our DNA 2023 summer school was going to be big. From the get-go we had big plans to build on last year’s success by doubling the size of the cohort to 10. We wanted it to be as inclusive as possible, offering quality learning and work experience to people from as diverse a range of backgrounds and educational pathways as we could, bringing together different perspectives to inspire and challenge each other into pushing their creativity forwards.
“Making our industry as inclusive as possible has always been incredibly important to me,” says our CEO Kieron Goldsborough. “I’m passionate about making sure anyone has the opportunity to experience our world, regardless of their background. Our first DNA last year was amazing and we were keen to make this year’s bigger, better and even more inclusive to people in the region. We work in an amazing industry and it can only benefit from having a more diverse and inclusive make-up in the future.”
So when the entries started to flow in, we shouldn’t have been surprised when things started to snowball. After intense deliberation we managed to whittle the shortlist down to 15. We saw the potential in every one of them. Could we make space? The more the merrier? Heck yeah. Plans were redrawn, workspaces moved, and diaries juggled with military precision.
What followed felt pretty huge in terms of seeing skills and confidence grow before your eyes. Three teams of five. One exciting live brief for a real client. A curveball thrown in, because that’s how agency life is. And a packed schedule of talks and mentoring sessions on everything from creative idea generation to presentation skills and how the pitch process works.
And to it all, our students brought their whole selves. Their preferences and identities, neurodiverse alongside neurotypical, 17-year-old college freshers alongside 24-year-old masters students. ADHD, dyslexia, visual and hearing impairments, social anxiety, and depression. Curious, original thinkers, owning their individuality, supporting each other, and sharing experiences and skillsets to build teams that buzzed with energy, empathy, and ideas.
We tasked them with designing a brand awareness strategy to put our client Shared Interest in the hearts and minds of young people aged 16 to 25. They put their all in, and brilliant things came out, from conducting social media audits to creating stand-out concepts backed up by solid research into the benefits of subscription boxes, creating character mascots, and ambassador programmes.
Client Laura Gabriele of Shared Interest was blown away by the quality of the presentations. “So many ideas!” she exclaimed, “I was very impressed by the thoroughness of the research, and by the fact that the students really understood what we do, as our business is very complex. I’m really excited about sharing the work with our team.”
Congratulations to Thomas Adey, Oliver Brown, Sonny Drummond, Keira Edwards, China Gallagher, Phoebe Henderson, Zack McLeod, Katy Metcalf, Tyler Miller, Lucy Poole, Emily Reed, Billy Robson, Sevita Shergill, and Georgia Vanstone. And to Helena Macaulay, who completed a great first week but sadly missed the second due to illness.
It was interesting to see that more than a third of this year’s cohort applied for the programme following an NE1 CAN event, at which Kieron and our PR and content manager Patrick O’Kane were key speakers. An initiative run by our client NE1 Ltd, NE1 CAN now delivers 40 career insight events every year, bringing together cross-sector businesses, education and youth providers to showcase future employability opportunities and help inform young people’s career decisions.
Kerry McCabe, Business Network Manager at NE1, agreed that the whole process proved mutually beneficial. “It’s such a privilege to be able to work with a business who share similar values in engaging young people now about work opportunities in the future, she says. “Giving young people real, cohesive and relevant work experience is a game-changer for individuals as they think about their own future employability options.
“Different Narrative were determined to engage a diverse pool of applicants with the talent to progress and succeed in the industry, and we were only too happy to help to spread the message. Often young people lack understanding of job roles and sectors simply because they don’t know they exist, something Different Narrative and NE1 CAN are both working on changing.”
“I’m very proud that we’ve been able to develop something that has not only been a positive experience for our cohort, but for us as an agency,” adds Kieron. “Roll on next year!”