After working at many agencies in Chicago, including DDB, FCB, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul, and Razorfish, Jesse Alkire is returning to his home state of Colorado to launch the Denver Ad School.
Alkire calls the effort a viable alternative to the traditional two-year portfolio program and more expensive models offered by Miami Ad School or Creative Circus.
"The last thing most people want to do after spending at least four years in college is spend another 40 grand and two more years in another school," he says. "But hey, if you’ve got the free time and extra cash lying around, those other schools are great — really! But a portfolio doesn’t take years to develop.
"As with any piece of creative, you could theoretically work on it and refine it forever — but the reality is at some point you just need to finish it and move on. We think spending a little over a year on a portfolio and then entering the workforce is the best way to do it."
Alkire's Denver Ad School (DAD) offers concentrated programs in art direction and copywriting for 14 months, while the strategic planning program lasts 11 weeks. Heather Vanisko, the former director of Chicago Portfolio School will run operations and student engagement/enrollment.
Structured similar to an ad agency, these full-time programs are taught by active industry professionals from top Colorado agencies. Classes will be held nightly at the school’s Blake Street location as well as at the Boulder offices of Crispin Porter Bogusky.
"The ultimate aim of DAD is to help the next generation of creatives enter the business more prepared, have a better working experience than advertising is sometimes known for, and hopefully turn advertising into a more relevant and enjoyable form of communication that’s a part of the greater good," says Vanisko.
The program will dedicate two months to job placement, including sending portfolio links to partners at the top agencies in the country to review. DAD will also host portfolio debut events for students to show off their book in person with agencies.
Students will be prepped to learn what to say, what not to say, what to expect in an agency interview, and how to negotiate salaries and employment contracts. This is a 'How Not to Blow It' class, jokes Vanisko.
Alkire adds enrolled students will receive weekly "super secret, DAD alumni-only newsletters" with industry news, job opportunities, and other “cool stuff,” says Vanisko. "Our job is to get you a job, so the door never closes," she says. "For as long as you want after you’re done here, you can keep calling, texting, emailing, and sending up signal flares for help and advice. Yep, this is a forever type of thing."
Enrollment is now open with the first quarter beginning on July 8. The application deadline is June 1.