Close-Up: Graduate - A slice of life on the WPP Fellowship

Dale Kirsop recounts his first week as a WPP Fellow at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

It was on a freezing January Friday that Jon Steel called to deliver the news: I was to join the WPP Fellowship, beginning at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

At the time I was standing on Blackfriars Bridge, waiting to catch a train to my brother's 18th birthday party. I was dressed as a pirate.

After stumbling through my thank yous and pinching myself about 20,000 times, I boarded the train and thought very seriously to myself: "This is a massive opportunity, don't mess it up."

Monday 3 September

The First Day.

Seven months pass in the blink of an eye, and before long I am sat in the bar at RKCR/Y&R, in need of a belt, wearing borrowed shoes, broken cufflinks and desperately seeking my phone, which is 35,000 feet over the Atlantic on the plane I have just left it on.

Nevertheless, I am here, and it's 8.45. I am early.

At 9.00am, Tom, Ed and I (the new grads) are escorted to a meeting room housing the three lovely girls that have created our training scheme. They walk us through what we will be doing on the scheme, essentially a well-choreographed whistle-stop tour of every department in the agency, and a week seconded to our future clients. It's all very exciting.

After completing all the necessary paperwork, the girls come and whisk the three of us off to a welcome meal at a local Vietnamese, where we are treated to a few beers and a chicken curry.

Our conversation moves swiftly on from work and to the much more pressing issue of why I'm an idiot to move to Clapham when Tufnell Park is just around the corner.

My immediate feeling is that I'm going to like it here.

Tuesday 4 September

This morning we are taken to The Chapel (RKCR/Y&R's multicoloured boardroom), where we meet Paul Graham and Dahlia Nahome, who head the account management department.

They deliver a fascinating presentation on the inner workings of the agency, enlightening us to the effort and devotion that is poured into every brief and new-business pitch, from the moment the task arrives to beyond the point at which it leaves the door.

There's a lot to take in, and we have a lot of questions to ask, but reception awaits. Our first week is about settling in and getting to know everyone in the agency, so for the rest of the day Tom and I sit on the reception desk.

Gillian, our extraordinary receptionist, has more energy than anyone I've ever met in my life, and it quickly becomes clear that the nice relaxing day I had envisaged will be all but a fantasy.

Instead, it's a full-on onslaught of tea-making, toast-burning, booking, stocking, and, in my case, accidentally hanging up on people.

The day is, however, a great opportunity to meet everyone in the agency, and Gillian ensures that Tom and I are introduced to literally every person that walks past, most of whom seem pretty bemused as to why we're manning the reception desk.

Tom, Ed and I each have a buddy within the agency, somebody we can go to with the questions we don't want to ask anyone else.

Mine is Sophie Davis, who kindly offers to take me to the pub to say hello. We enjoy a steak sandwich and a drink or two while I get the lowdown on agency social life. We have a big party next week. I'm told to prepare.

Wednesday 5 September

This morning the settling-in process continues, and we're sent to Dispatch. Here, we work for Victor, the Colombian joker who runs the postroom.

Victor spends most of the morning ensuring he informs anyone of relative importance visiting the room that we are "f**king useless" at our jobs. We just sit and smile; we're the new boys, after all. We can't argue back yet.

Mid-afternoon, and Paul Colman gives us our first opportunity to work on an account. He asks us to prepare a document for Lloyds TSB entitled Are We Like Our Parents?. We spend the next few hours trawling through Mintel reports (and Wikipedia) and discover some horrifying facts about life in the 50s.

Late in the day, Lucy "Campaign Face to Watch" Howard meets us to discuss an eccentric piece of new business the agency has picked up recently: Harris Tweed.

It is important, we are told, that the client is able to understand what they're up against with their fast-approaching relaunch, so Tom, Ed and I head to Borders on Oxford Street to siphon through the shooting magazines in pursuit of images depicting that classic, cocked-gun over the shoulder, staring out over the horizon look, to put on boards for the client.

Thursday 6 September

I arrive to find that everyone who sits around me in the office has been there all night. It's a big day; there's a pitch. Tired and fragile, the pitch team needs three strong lads to carry their hard work down to the awaiting van, and so naturally come to us.

We oblige, and I end up running around our building at full pelt to find the van that was supposed to be at the front of the building 15 minutes ago. It's around the back.

Emma Storer from new business invites me to Jermyn Street to help the team set up the pitch, so I jump in the car and head down with them. This is a chance for me to see the unbelievable amount of work that goes into a two-hour pitch presentation, and also to say hello to some of the senior team who will be delivering it. I wish them the best of luck and leave them to it.

I make it back to the agency in time for the welcome drinks that are being hosted for us and the others who have joined recently. Richard Exon, the chief executive, makes us feel welcome, and very much part of the community.

However, before I even have time to finish my second drink, I'm whisked off by Joe Heath to more welcome drinks - this time at WPP.

Joe is a former Fellow who is now the senior planner at RKCR's digital agency, Saint. In the car to WPP I ask him if he has any advice for me as I settle into my new position. His answer is that I should try to keep a low profile, and knuckle down and let my work do the talking. My stomach tightens and I regret agreeing to write this piece.

We arrive at WPP to a very warm welcome from Jon Steel. It's the first time that us new Fellows have met outside the formalities of an interview and it's nice to be able to kick back and hear what everyone has been up to since we last met.

Some year-old Fellows have also come, and it's nothing short of inspiring to hear what they have achieved in their first year, and I tingle with excitement when I hear plans for their second. Advertising Diet Coke across South America from a bar in Buenos Aires doesn't sound too bad at all.

Friday 7 September

Getting out of bed this morning is made all the more easy by the prospect of a free breakfast. This is provided during my first outing to one of the regular account management department meetings.

It begins with an introduction by Joe and the team at Saint who, to much applause, explain to us the new-business briefs that they have been winning. They also showcase some of their latest work.

Paul and Dahlia then take us through some of the latest developments in the account management department.

Afterwards, Rich Brown briefs all the grads on our project for the upcoming week, which we will spend in the creative department.

He hands us a live Virgin Atlantic creative brief, and asks us to come up with ideas for a print ad that demonstrates a small portion of its route network. I find it surprisingly difficult to find a single image that links the chosen destinations, but after a moment of apparent genius I rush upstairs so that my assigned creative team, Steve Jones and Martin Loraine, can lavish praise on my idea.

Wading through the sea of awards that constitutes their carpet, I immediately realise I'm way out of my depth, and sit down sheepishly wishing I'd spent more time on the idea before so keenly knocking on their door. It turns out that putting Mickey Mouse's head on the end of a palm tree trunk doesn't really sell flights, but the guys are a great help and point me in the right direction.

My first week on the WPP Fellowship at RKCR has been fantastic. Everyone has been supremely welcoming, and from day one I have been made to feel as though I'm part of two formidable forces.

Word is trickling out as to what accounts I might be assigned to in the coming weeks, and it looks as if this will be a year to remember.