'Young Shits': How two junior creatives are trying to reimagine student ad competitions

Young Lions at Cannes. Young Ones at The One Club. Young Guns at ADC: There’s no shortage of student competitions among aspiring agency creatives looking to win some shiny trophies. But while scoring trophies is nice, scoring a job is better. (And how about some personalized feedback and mentorship from young creatives who were themselves students just a few years ago, while we’re at it?)

That is the idea behind “Young Shits” — a new student advertising contest and side project by Droga5 junior creatives Vignesh Seshadri and Kathryn Kvas, which brings advertising students in contact with young creatives from the industry.

The competition’s name is obviously a self-deprecating joke, but it also aspires to be “a game changer” in the student contest landscape. Young Shits isn’t an official Droga5 project, nor is it about high level execs glancing at student pitches for a couple of seconds. Its judges are themselves rising junior creatives with less than five years of experience.

“We noticed that most of these student competitions had the word ‘young’ in them, but the judges were all busy and established high-level executives,” said Vignesh Seshadri, junior art director at Droga5.

“Having been students ourselves until recently, we also wanted to make it relatable for them and assure them that we give a shit,” added Kathryn Kvas, junior copywriter at Droga5. “The other competitions look great on your resume, but that one-on-one connection — and someone that actually vouch for you and get you a job — is missing.”

The competition will invite entries every two months, introducing two briefs from two “hand-picked” judges. Participants can submit entries to one brief or both, within two months of the start date. The top five entries will receive personalized feedback from the judges, and the winner will get a one-on-one session — and perhaps a job recommendation.

The first round, for instance, kicks off on Feb. 16 and features Frank Garcia, a junior creative at Droga5 as one of the two judges. His pitch is for participants: “Make those who don’t clean after their dogs understand that this is socially unacceptable.”

Sheshadri and Kvas, both alums of Miami Ad School, are tapping their alma mater to spread the word among students there. They are also reaching out to other portfolio schools, setting up a Facebook page and relying on their own peer network for some outreach. The winners of the first round will be announced on May 15, and there are four other rounds to follow. Sheshadri and Kvas eventually plan to create a database with all the winners’ names, hoping it serves as a resource for recruiters looking for young talent.

“It’s about easing some of the struggles of being a beginner in advertising,” said Kvas. “At the end of the day, if we and our judges can play a role in getting someone a job, that would be ideal.”