AWARD School heads, tutors, lecturers and students have gone above and beyond this year to meet the challenges posed by the forced move of the course online due to COVID-19. Student Sam Cooper from Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne, shares her AWARD School experiences so far (with a little help from the furkids!)

Tight deadlines, late nights, neglected partners/chores/dogs and mounting scribbles and sketches strewed across my kitchen table – with a few tweaks to adapt to the new COVID-19 environment, AWARD School 2020 is well and truly underway!

While it has been a little disappointing not to have the chance to meet my tutors, lecturers and fellow students in person, the new world, to my great delight and amazement, has revealed that I am way more adaptable than I ever imagined.

I write to you from my kitchen table, which is my new Monday to Friday office, my study space and my local hangout for catching up with friends over a bottle of wine. It’s also where I have heated family arguments over who has cooked the best Chicken Parma at our weekly family check-ins and where I now work my creative butt off coming up with ideas and concepts for AWARD School.

For those that don’t know, AWARD School is often described as the best, worst weeks of your life. It’s a 12-week crash course in creative thinking. It’s all about the processes involved in coming up with great ideas and ultimately, great ads.

Every Monday evening a pre-recorded lecture is uploaded to Workspace. A cool bonus feature of AWARD School being delivered online is that both the Sydney and Melbourne lectures are available for students of both States to access. In these lectures, we have exposure to some of Australia’s most brilliant creative minds as they break down and explain the ideas and concepts that constitute a successful ad or campaign.

On Wednesdays, a brief is posted for students to respond to for review and discussion in the following Thursday’s tutorial. While these feedback/critique sessions experience all the awkward glory of your standard online collab sessions (you’re on mute!) this is the most invaluable experience as it provides me direct access to my tutors (currently Cam McMillan and Liam Jenkins, Cummins&Partners) and the opportunity to receive both positive and constructive feedback.

I’ve had my share of pride (“Sam, this is quite good”) and humbling shame (“Sam, this is quite shit”) but everything has fed back into building, strengthening and often just simplifying the final ideas into great ones (or quite good ones anyway).

We are in Week Three, and so far I have had the opportunity to learn from the creative insights of Barbara Humphries (The Monkeys), Alex Wadelton (The Right-brain Workout), Russell Fox and Avish Gordhan (M&C Saatchi), Rebecca Carrasco (Saatchi & Saatchi) and Ant Keogh (The Monkeys).

It has been invaluable to have access to so much industry experience and wisdom. I am particularly looking forward to the Week Nine Melbourne lecture which will be presented by our very own Evan Roberts (no pressure Ev!)

Three weeks down, nine more to go and then the ramped-up rush to bring together a folio of brilliance for the final submission! Wish me luck – With both the course and my constant fate tempting Officeworks expeditions to stock up on supplies.