Vibrant, and full of energy and ideas is how designer and strategist intern at Sum of 21 Academy, Mpho Qhomane, describes her colleagues.
However, she concedes that, “One thing they may be lacking, as opposed to more experienced people in agencies, is emotional intelligence. Patience for example is something young people struggle with. Patience is something you need in order to learn.”
Asked about the challenges she has faced thus far in the programme, Qhomane cites tight deadlines and the fact that the media agency world is so extroverted as the main ones for her.
“As an introvert, I’ve had to find a way to find myself in this extroverted world. I’m not very chatty and I get really exhausted talking all the time, so I’ve had to find ways in order to do that all the time,” she comments.
She describes media agencies as a fast-paced world where one has to think on their feet, and stresses that people need to “find their zen in a space that is so chaotic”.
A passion for strategy
Qhomane has set her sights on a career path in strategy, as with it “you get to see the lay of the land, the full picture, and how businesses operate in it” and can then come up with relevant creative ideas.
“Sometimes in the creative process you can get lost in what you think is nice and creative, but it doesn’t necessarily the serve the landscape the business operates in,” she adds.
Qhomane’s advice for other youngsters looking to break into the media agency world, or who are just starting out, is to focus on building their skills (as the industry is always changing so people need to keep up) and their emotional intelligence.
“This environment needs an emotional resilience and an understanding of why you’re here, so if you can always reflect on what is the purpose of why you’re here and what you’re doing, it keeps you sane, refreshed, energised and always producing your best,” she explains.
She adds that youngsters need to enter the agency world with passion, rather than simply out of desperation for a job, because if there’s isn’t true passion, then they won’t excel, but believes that even if people don’t fit the traditional creative person archetype they should try their hand at it.
“In future, creative agencies need to start recruiting, not based on qualifications and experience, but rather who people are, their character and their skills. How can they get innovation if they are always looking within the box to find innovative people? In order to find innovative and creative people, you have to look outside the archetypal structure of what creative people are, based on qualifications and experience,” Qhomane believes.
Qhomane has lofty ambitions, dreaming of one day starting her own agency. It will be different from a traditional one, with her envisaging an agency that works with digital freelance platforms.
Having studied fine arts and self-taught graphic design, Qhomane had a stint freelancing, before realising she needed to learn more about branding. This is how she ended up at Sum of 21 Academy, and so far, halfway through the programme, it has been valuable to her.
“The experience has really brought out my own capabilities, and I’ve learnt a lot from my mentors about strategy and how to manage time and meet deadlines”.
Speaking of mentors, Qhomane believes a good one lets their mentee just be themselves, not dictating how they should go about doing a job in a way that isn’t natural to them.