Empowering young adlanders for a digital future

Squared is a digital internship programme, hosted by Google and Hyper Island with support from the IPA, that aims to cultivate a new generation of industry leaders. Here, two recent ad recruits describe their experiences of the pilot scheme.

Empowering young adlanders for a digital future

KERRY DATLEN - digital account executive, Mindshare

I truly believe that Squared is going to give the UK communications industry an injection of new talent and a refreshing boost. The programme has empowered 85 individuals with both the knowledge to approach the industry as it stands and the drive and enthusiasm to push it in the right direction. It has also created a strong network across multiple agencies and disciplines that will continue to collaborate, ensuring that complacency is fought with forward-thinking.

For me, the programme has been about understanding and questioning the trajectory of where the industry is heading and that digital knowledge is just one small element of being prepared for the future. Squared has shown me that fostering effective team environments where creativity is free to flow and where feedback is fully embraced will have a bigger impact on the industry than imagined.

Squared encompasses innovation and the stripping back of ideas to ensure a correlation to real consumer needs and behaviours. There has been an ethos of "no idea is a bad idea" throughout, with a strong emphasis on building and exploring all potential avenues before discounting them. Teaching these skills to people at the beginning stages of their career ensures that innovation has the maximum potential to be achieved before the admin lethargy sets in.

Besides this, Squared has allowed me to delve into areas such as coding and research deeper than I have done in my few months at Mindshare so far, giving me a real appreciation of the importance of these areas in understanding the digital world. I can definitely say I won't be a coder any time soon, but understanding the complexity of it has alleviated any frustration I could have experienced and shown me the value of multiple channels of the industry.

The industry in the UK is broad and vast, and it can sometimes feel like you're a small fish in a big ocean, but my time at Mindshare along with the Squared training has helped me develop confidence in my ideas and conviction in delivering them. Outstanding speakers who gave their time to Squared, including Rory Sutherland, Sir John Hegarty and Jeremy Bullmore, have inspired me to build my own opinion on the state of the industry and given me the passion to go back into my agency and share it.

Squared has provided the opportunity to think like a leader and so given me real and tangible goals to work towards. This has taken away the feeling of being a small fish and filled me with an overwhelming feeling of opportunity. If I feel this way, I can only imagine the ripples that another 84 passionate individuals could create.

NATHAN MILLER - insight curator, Karmarama

My experience at Squared not only gave me a practical bedrock of an education in digital marketing, but positively shifted my outlook on the world, which, in turn, is already improving my work and evolving my role as an insight curator at Karmarama. Squared has empowered me in an unerringly positive fashion, but how did this happen?

It started with great yet vague expectations. I knew it was a digital marketing internship, but the details were (deliberately) held back. Though my not-so-secret plan was to get a photo of the cats that covertly power the internet and share it with the world via WikiLeaks, when confronted with 84 young people who were about to go through the same process as myself, I instantly realised and believed in the potential of Squared; for it is very rare that you are presented with a ready-made network of like-minded individuals.

My first week involved losing a leg to an alligator as I tried to cross a dangerous jungle river in Victoria. Such exercises were the foundation of our closeness; it was through these simulated moments and other Squared methodologies that I realised the creative confidence and freedom that embodies Squared's mission statement: "Empowering the next generation of leaders to drive industry (r)evolution."

We were given the chance to exercise these newly discovered leadership superpowers by harnessing the old Spider-Man adage that "with great power comes great responsibility" across three collaborative projects. We were also fortuitous enough to receive lectures from some of the smartest people in the world. From Mark Comerford affirming that the word "network" far better describes what is happening to us on a human level than "digital", to Google's Nikesh Arora telling us to always remain passionately curious about everything, to Nicola Mendelsohn telling us to form our own "Squared agency" should our existing ones choose not to listen to us. All astonishingly mind-blowing experiences.

The benefits of Squared started revealing themselves as early as the Friday of the first week, when my line manager and I decided my new job title would be "Prophet for the New World Order". Although this title change hasn't quite transpired, my role has evolved in an enjoyable way, empowering my colleagues through working smarter.

Thank you to everyone involved with Squared for such a life-changing experience. One final thing I will say is that I'm extremely jealous of the next round of Squared students and hope to be part of an alumni that mischievously inspires them.


Squared aims to teach skills in search, project management, digital marketing, account management, planning, leadership and teamwork.

It runs for six weeks, with the next programme starting on 1 October.

Squared recruits from a small number of agency partners, although there are plans to extend the programme in 2013. If your agency wants to participate, please go to @Squared_Team on Twitter for more information.

The programme's content was the result of more than 172 hours of workshops with more than 200 industry experts.

Squared was created and developed by Google and Hyper Island, which designs learning experiences for both students and industry professionals, in partnership with the IPA.