Gray’s strengthens creative industry links with innovative Aberdeen agency

Tuesday 05 March 2024

Group image of Prospect 13, marketing agency, and students from Gray's School of Art.
Gray’s School of Art is continuing to strengthen links with the North East’s creative industry by hosting a series of talks designed to nurture up and coming young talent in the region.

As part of the University’s ‘Connect & Reflect Week’ to enhance student experience, Cerri McDonald, Managing Director of Bridge of Don-based marketing and communications agency, Prospect 13, visited Gray's School of Art to offer fourth year Communication Design students’ motivational insights, marketing expertise and creative industry guidance on career development after graduating from university.  

For the first time during this year’s series, a former Gray’s School of Art student also gave a unique perspective on landing his first design job with Prospect 13 after graduating in 2023 with a first-class honour’s degree in Communication Design.

Reflecting on his return to Gray’s during the visit last week, Karthik Sunil, Design Protégé with Prospect 13, said, “Studying Communication Design at Gray’s School of Art was the ideal stepping stone into the creative marketing industry. I graduated from RGU armed with the design techniques and skills required to land my first job, but my proactive approach to building industry contacts and constantly learning and developing is what opened up opportunities. 

“It has been a real pleasure to come back to Gray’s and by sharing my journey, hopefully it helps play a small part in building a stronger network of creatives across our region.”

Cerri McDonald, who launched Prospect 13 in 2018 to deliver outsourced marketing support to help small to medium businesses reach their creative marketing potential, said, “As a marketing agency, creativity is fundamental to everything we do, but at the heart of our business, we are 100% committed to nurturing north-east talent and improving future outlooks.

“These two factors combined meant it was a no-brainer to support Gray’s School of Art by sharing some of our insights on the reality of working in our industry.  We know design graduates are equipped with creative skills and knowledge but those all-important soft skills such as drive, passion, communication, relationship building, and a growth mindset are vital for employers when recruiting for these roles.

“Hopefully, by spending some time with the students, we have helped them see what the future could look like, but more importantly, how they can successfully take all they have learned at university and effectively apply it to the real world of work.” 

Iain Morrison, Stage 4 Coordinator for Communication Design at Gray’s School of Art said: “This has been a great opportunity for our students to gain an insight into the creative communications industry and to learn first-hand the experiences of professionals from a leading UK marketing agency. Karthik’s perspective on his first role after graduation and Cerri discussing some of Prospect 13’s, current projects provided a great opportunity for our students.

"As a multidisciplinary Art School, Gray’s offers our students a platform for establishing their own future professional career, and we are currently ranked 1st in Scotland for student satisfaction in Art & Design by the Complete University Guide (2024). Our success is testament to the close links Gray’s has with industry, which ensure our students are equipped with the skills required for life after university. Our students really enjoyed Prospect 13’s presentation and insight.”

Stage 4 Communication Design students, Dawn MacKenzie said: “The visit from Prospect 13 team was really interesting as we got to hear both sides of the creative hiring process. Cerri McDonald explained how she created her business as well as what she looks for when hiring new people for her creative team.

“Karthik Sunil, who joined the team 7 months ago, shared his experiences since joining the company and his role within the creative team. What stuck with me was a point Cerri and Karthik both highlighted, the importance of networking. Creating an accessible portfolio that is engaging is important, and having good interpersonal skills is key to finding your place within the industry.”

Another Stage 4 Communication Design student, Alannah Haldane, said: “I really enjoyed broadening my knowledge listening to what Prospect 13 had to say. It was also really beneficial to find out more about different careers and departments within the company."

Prospect 13 supports its clients with strategic insights and direction thanks to a team of professionals who are marketing experts in branding, graphic design, and web development as well as PR, digital marketing and events.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Communication Design course and studying at Gray’s School of Art can visit the university on 9 March or 11 May for RGU's Discovery Day. Prospective students will have the chance to meet staff and current students, to learn more about what university life is like and the opportunity to engage in interactive sessions, workshops and campus tours.

Image shows Prospect 13 and Gray’s students including:  (left to right) Nithya Chandrasekaran, Olivia Connolly, Molly Donald, Dawn Mackenzie, Natalia Olejniczak, Karthik Sunil from Prospect 13,  Alannah Haldane, Kyle Swan, Alex Easton, Cerri McDonald Director of Prospect 13, Chimdi Ikoro, Maxine Hoggan and Chrissy Simms.

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