RAW Academy: How to jump start your career in the creative industry

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Emily-Faye, HR Advisor

Beginning any journey requires the answer to one fundamental question, “Where do I start?”.

At Rufus Leonard, we understand that it is a huge challenge for anyone trying to crack the creative industry. Industry experience is invaluable. But how do you break the cycle of needing experience to get experience? This is why our RAW initiative exists: to help people from any route access the opportunities, tools, skills and mentors to succeed in this industry.

We’ve asked some of the alumni of RAW – who were once in these shoes and are now permanent employees at Rufus Leonard – to share their journey. Each found RAW through a different path, but everyone showed an eagerness and determination to learn and put into practise what Rufus Leonard could teach them:  


Junior Copywriter (16 months at Rufus, 3 months as an intern)

Finding paid work and getting a foot in the door was really hard. I’d spent a year working in the film industry going from internship to internship – often unpaid – before moving to a PR company. It was there that my eyes were opened to the possibility of working in communications and marketing. When trying to find experience in this sector, I delved into my University’s alumni network. From there, I got in touch with a mid-weight copywriter at Rufus Leonard and asked to meet them for coffee and some advice. It was during that coffee meet-up that they introduced me to the paid copywriting internship with the RAW Academy.

Until this point, I’d never heard of copywriting, so the internship was a steep but exhilarating learning curve; one I thoroughly enjoyed. I worked closely with my mentor and the wider copy team who taught me a wealth of invaluable skills. Throughout the internship, I was asked to work on some exciting client projects, contributing to naming workshops, video scripts and a pitch. My year prior, as a ‘struggling intern’ in the film world, definitely gave me the drive to work hard and learn as much as I could. It was RAW that has given me the opportunity to work with some very talented people and continue to improve my skills.  


UX Designer (15 months at Rufus, 2 months as an intern)

The creative industry is saturated and tough for a junior to stand out from the crowd. Finding my first job as a UX Designer was an important step in my career change. I looked at agencies who focused on UX processes and had great values and culture. This is how I found Rufus Leonard and the RAW Academy. 

I was a Fashion Buyer for nearly 10 years and switching careers has been the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s not only about training and learning new skills, it’s about reinventing your life and setting new goals. I wanted to get into the creative industry through the right door. To find a place where I could learn, be challenged and get exposure to both agency life and UX processes. I found this with Rufus Leonard’s RAW Academy. From the start I had the opportunity to demonstrate my skills and my drive in designing creative solutions. I was involved with clients and important pitches and I knew my contribution mattered.

I’m on the right path to achieving my goals and look forward to continuing to learn and be inspired by the amazing Rufus Leonard family.


Mid-Weight Strategist (4 years at Rufus, RAW workshop led directly to full-time employment)

A lot of it comes down to being proactive and creating your own luck. I’ve always been quite nerdy and inquisitive, so it’s been easy to get into interesting opportunities. I always took part in things, without much more expectation than passing time and learning something new. Spanning from winning awards at a local film festival at Sixth Form, to landing third place in an international 8 month long creative competition in my second year at university.

During the last year of my bachelors, my friend and I started an agency, selling branding and digital design services to predominantly Norwegian clients. This gave me good exposure to what it takes to run a creative business. During my masters, I spent my downtime doing internships and working on side projects, as well as attending any industry related events I had access to – which is how I was introduced to Rufus Leonard.

RAW was a brilliant introduction to the agency. I already had some idea of how the industry worked, but RAW helped me find grounding in an agency that fitted my way of working, something I think is still true.


Strategist (2 years at Rufus, 5 months as an intern)

I had just left uni and was asking for my first break. At first, it was really tough searching for opportunities, writing endless emails, sharing my CV with multiple agencies to either not hear back or get repetitive feedback referring to my lack of experience. It felt like a vicious circle, but persistence was key.

Alongside my independent search, I was fortunate enough to attend a RAW workshop organised by my University. This was a chance to learn about the agency and show what I had to offer as part of a mini-project. This experience taught me the importance of face-to-face interaction when selling yourself. Out of the 28 people at the RAW workshop, I was lucky enough to walk away with an internship.

RAW Academy was essential for preparing me for my full-time strategist role. I arrived with experience only in brand and limited client experience, so it was an amazing opportunity to push my skills further and work with some huge brands. More importantly, I learnt a massive array of skills I didn’t know about before joining Rufus Leonard. It has definitely opened up my future in a way I couldn’t have done without the RAW Academy.

So…where to start?

Regardless of how they found the RAW Academy, our alumni have highlighted some key themes that will help you unlock the first step to a career in the creative industry:

  1. Stay open to opportunities
  2. Be proactive to create your own luck
  3. Keep learning new skills, it will open doors
  4. Attend industry-related events
  5. Get face-to-face and make an impact
  6. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your wider network
  7. Look for agencies that match your values

Importantly, be persistent and never stop believing in yourself.

Get ready to RAW At Rufus Leonard, we’re invested in emboldening new talent and providing people with opportunities to get started. Whether that be via portfolio feedback, one of our workshops, university lectures, or RAW Academy (our paid internship). If you’re interested in jump starting a career in user experience (UX), brand experience strategy, design, copywriting, web development or client services.

Rufus Leonard

Ever since our founders, Neil and Darrel, started Rufus Leonard 29 years ago, we have been helping businesses create extraordinary experiences for their colleagues and their customers across all touchpoints. We do this with an engineering mindset, which means we’re both visionary thinkers and detailed doers. We believe this holistic approach is critical for success in an increasingly complex world. Our integrated offer enables us to design, build and fine-tune the engines of Extraordinary Brand Experience – Organisational Engagement, Brand Optimisation, Service Design & Build and Technology. Supporting brands like Lloyds Banking Group, British Gas, Reckitt Benckiser, Royal Mail, Stagecoach, BBC and Aggreko.