See our suggestions for creative and fast-paced work in agencies or in-house


Advertising involves persuasion; coming up with original and creative ways that a product is better than another. Advertising is also used to educate or increase awareness of a particular topic, ranging from charities to the government, so it’s a varied sector!  

Opportunities exist in creative agencies, media agencies and in-house for individual organisations. 

Almost one million jobs are supported by the UK advertising industry, as follows: 

  • 350,000 jobs in advertising and in-house  

  • 76,000 jobs in the media sectors  

  • 560,000 jobs supported by the advertising industry 

(Source: The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) 2021 )

Although the majority of large agencies are based in London, London is not the only hub. Consider agencies in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Leeds – some of these cities also house the regional offices of leading London-based agencies. 

Browse the IPA member agencies throughout the UK – results can be refined by region: 

IPA member agencies 

Technology is moving fast and providing new ways to reach audiences all the time, so nothing stays still in the world of advertising.

A report (April 2021) by the Advertising Association looked at the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. The industry was in a good position to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour - moving towards e-commerce - and the online advertising marketplace helped businesses stay connected. SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) who had little or no online presence quickly adapted. A strong recovery from pandemic losses is forecast. 

You can view a summary of the report: 

Advertising Association 

What’s it like?

Although an advertising-related degree is not essential, it can be beneficial and demonstrates an interest in the industry.  However, if your skills and attributes lie in STEM subjects, analytics, art, humanities or if you have strong communication skills, a career in advertising could be for you too. 

IPA provides an overview of the types of roles that can fit your particular strengths. It provides example job descriptions outlining what the role entails, who you would be working with and the skills required. Use this information to help you reflect on any skills or experience you may want to develop: 

IPA – the right advertising role for you 

Job profile: Advertising account executive (Prospects)

Job profile:  Advertising account planner  (Prospects)

Job profile: Advertising art director  (Prospects)

Job profile: Advertising copywriter (Prospects)

Job profile: Creative director (Prospects)

Looking for some inspiration? 

Watch short videos via Careers Service Plus (University of Edinburgh login required): 

An industry overview: advertising 

Top tips for getting into advertising 

Key skills for working in advertising 

Watch the following video on Media Hopper to find out what roles the advertising industry recruits for:

Creative & Cultural Careers 2022: Insight into Advertising Careers

Stay up-to-date with current trends and topical issues by listening to the Campaign weekly podcast: 

Campaign podcast 

Discover what’s out there with the Creative & Cultural Careers events (CCC). These events are organised for all our students and graduates interested in working in the creative industries. Check our next Creative and Cultural event:

Creative and Cultural Careers Event

Building experience and getting started 

Be proactive and creative when looking for opportunities to build experience, by getting involved and expanding your network. Tailor your social media profile towards advertising, and proactively approach organisations whose work inspires you; if they can see your enthusiasm, they are all the more likely to consider you for work experience.  

For example: 

Platform One is an online network of Edinburgh alumni and others. People are on there because they want to help, so it’s a great place to start – it’s possible that you might find a contact whom you can ask for tips: 

Platform One 

Become a member of Creative Edinburgh, a community which provide a programme of events and monthly meetups – membership is free. Explore their community directory to find members to connect with by selecting ‘advertising and marketing’:  

Creative Edinburgh 

Consider a student membership with the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) for access to webinars, workshops and skills sessions: 

DMA Student Membership 

The IPA has compiled a great list of agency taster programmes, ranging from online training courses and workshops through to work experience programmes:  

IPA – agency taster programmes 

Creative Access, a social enterprise, supports those from under-represented backgrounds in the UK. They operate across all creative sectors, including advertising, and partner with global brands through to smaller independent organisations. Register to apply for opportunities, including internships: 

Creative Access 

How to present your ‘book’/creative portfolio 

If you’re hoping to get into the creative department in an agency - either to gain work experience, or to work there - you're likely to be employed on the basis of showing creative directors your ‘book’ of work. So, networking and speculative approaches are crucial; get the details of every creative director you meet or contact so that you can follow up and build a relationship (email address, blog). 

  • Agencies want to understand your thinking, so set up each campaign with the brief (in a sentence) and the insight that led to your idea.

  • Proofread everything. 

  • Tailor your work, e.g. if it’s a social media agency, make sure you have your social media work upfront. 

  • Show your versatility – agencies like people who aren’t limited in their thinking. 

  • Get someone you trust to review your work. 

  • Aim for about 6-8 pieces of work you can talk through – keep a couple in reserve, in case the conversation is extended. 

Take on feedback from creative directors – show that you have listened and are able to process feedback. 

Know who you’re meeting 

Consider your ‘book’/portfolio as your bridge to someone when you’re meeting them. It’s much easier to build a rapport with someone you know a bit about. Find out: 

  • where they’ve worked 

  • what awards they’ve won 

  • what new business their agency has won recently

  • what awards their agency has won. 

Enthusiasm is key! 

  • Have you got a personal project that you did – something that captures your approach? 

  • Have an opinion. What’s your favourite piece of work and why? 

  • What brands do you like and why? (Avoid saying iconic brands which everyone tends to say) 

  • Ask for feedback. 

Creative Lives in Progress, a website for people just starting out in the creative industry, includes advice on portfolio:

Portfolio advice

Where can I find job vacancies? 

Some of the larger advertising agencies run graduate training schemes; look at individual agency websites from September to check application deadlines. 

Check MyCareerHub for vacancies. It’s worth looking at the expired opportunities function to find companies who have advertised job vacancies and internships in the past to approach speculatively: 

MyCareerHub - Opportunities 

Our webpage on creating your own opportunity gives more advice on this speculative approach:  

Create your own opportunity 

Campaign Jobs, the official jobs website for Campaign, covers all areas of advertising recruitment. Results can be refined by graduate, entry-level and intern: 

Campaign Jobs 

Search for job opportunities at IPA member agencies: 

IPA – jobs listings