Comms Council Graduate Programme 2022

Posted 23 July 2019.

If you’re graduating in the next 12 months and would like to apply to the Comms Council Graduate Programme, please click here.

The Comms Council Graduate Programme is open.

Applications open 1 August 2021, and close 30 September 2021.

For the last nine years the Comms Council Grad Programme has been working with universities, graduates, students and advertising/communications agencies, to facilitate employment opportunities for young talent wanting to develop their careers in the world of advertising.

I’m pleased to advise that this year we will be reverting back to the historical programme and working with graduates and agencies to connect and facilitate any employment opportunities that arise.

As in past years this involved visits and presentations by Marlen Smith, Industry Development Director, for the Comms Council will take place. Marlen will visit as many universities as possible. During these presentations we will inspire our audience to learn more about the advertising and communications industry and tell our story. We will explain the variety of roles, the opportunities, the career pathways into the industry and where this can take you globally. We will also show you how the Comms Council Grad Programme, could assist young talent to find roles within advertising.

We encourage anyone who is interested in the world of advertising/communications to apply. We are looking to build a rich and diverse depth of talent for the industry, so stress that our roles are not degree specific. We are looking for graduates from both the arts and science disciplines.

If you are interested in getting into the advertising communications industry, please read below and follow the refreshed application guidelines.

The Comms Council Graduate Programme

The Comms Council Graduate Programme is one of the advertising industry’s longest-running, and most successful grad programmes. The programme is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door of the advertising world, and kick off your career on a high note. The main roles we offer include:

- Account Executive

- Media Assistant

- Digital / Interactive Marketing

- Experiential Assistant

What is advertising?

Advertising is a demanding, rigorous business, and its people are smart, resiliant and decisive. They work very hard at what they do; which, in a nutshell, is helping to solve clients’ business problems through effective communication, targeted through the right channels.

If you’re seriously considering a career in this exciting industry, it pays to do your homework - reading industry publications as often as you can, and getting to know the key sectors of the business.

It also helps to think about your own unique interests and skills, and which area of the industry would best put them to work.

It’s important to note that this programme does not offer roles in the Creative department.

If your goal is to become a copywriter, art director, or creative, this isn’t the programme for you.

If that’s what you’re looking for, please get in touch with us at and we can point you towards the right resources.

What are the roles, and what do they involve?


Account Management people are the client’s representative within the agency, and the agency’s representative for the client. It’s their job to know everything there is to know about their client’s business and its key competitors. They share this knowledge with the agency team, building strong internal relationships, and making sure work is completed to a high standard, on time, and on budget. They become the glue between the client and agency people.

The Account Management department has a clear hierarchy, and as part of the Graduate Programme, you will begin as an Account Executive – before slowly working your way up to Account Manager, then on to Account Director, and so on.

An Account Executive’s key responsibilities include:

- Coordinating day-to-day activities on behalf of a client

- Supporting the team with daily administrative tasks

- Briefing creative teams on projects

- Trafficking work through the agency

- Presenting work to clients under the supervision of an Account Director

- Making sure the work gets done on time, and on budget

- And knowing how to make a great cup of coffee is a bonus!

The best Account Executives are:

- Highly organised and attentive to detail

- Outstanding communicators

- Sensible decision-makers

- Natural problem-solvers

- All-round team players.


Whether in a full-service or specialist agency, media plays a pivotal role in advertising. Media planners, buyers and researchers make the client’s investment count, by making sure the advertising is seen by the right people at the right time. They find the right viewers, listeners and readers – known as the ‘target audience’ - and develop a cost-effective plan for reaching them. Then they negotiate deals with the media of choice for efficient delivery of advertising messages.

As part of the Graduate Programme, you may begin as a Media Assistant – and from there, potentially work your way up to either planning or buying, depending on your personal skillsets.

Media Assistants:

- Support their team with daily administrative tasks

- Prepare budgets and estimates

- Conduct statistical media analysis

- Take primary responsibility for day-to-day media administration functions

- Start to develop relationships with media suppliers.

Media Planners:

- Use their deep understanding of media markets to develop media plans

- Specify which media the client should purchase to reach their target audience

- Recommend an appropriate mix of media

- Recommend an advertising period and frequency

- Ensure the recommended campaign falls within, and makes the most of, the client’s budget.

Media Buyers:

- Take the approved media plan, and turn it into a reality

- Reserve and book the appropriate spaces and times

- Negotiate the best rates on their clients’ behalf

- Monitor media to make sure all goes according to plan.


Display, Search, Email, Mobile, Social Media – these days, opportunities in the digital marketing field are everywhere you look. Digital marketing is a multi-faceted beast, needing account service, media, production and creative people – and often blurring the lines between the different disciplines. The world of digital and interactive marketing also has opportunities in design, data management and computer programming.

People who excel in digital roles tend to have analytical minds, and great attention to detail. They can come from a wide range of backgrounds – from communications or marketing degrees, right through to maths, science, and computer science.

Copywriters need to be focused communicators, with a talent for writing memorable and succinct copy. Good copywriting demands discipline, a solid understanding of language, and an innate ability to get inside the minds of a whole range of different target audiences – whether it’s a parent buying a pram, or a teenager buying a skateboard.

Please note that the Comms Council Graduate Programme does not offer roles within creative disciplines. The route to the Creative Department takes quite a different path, and involves putting together a portfolio of your creative work.

If you’re looking to get into the creative side of advertising, email and we can point you in the direction of the right resources.

What are the different types of advertising agencies?

Advertising and communications is incredibly multi-faceted, and it’s becoming more so every day. That’s why, as well as encompassing a range of different roles, the industry also includes a range of different types of agencies. Each generally caters to a specific discipline, with various agencies often joining forces to collaborate on 360 degree solutions for their clients.


While every type of agency within the advertising industry lives and breathes creativity, the agencies we call ‘Creative Agencies’ are responsible for coming up with the big ideas that really shape a brand. From brand strategy, to TV ads, to print, to radio, they create and execute creative campaigns designed to appeal to specific target audiences, and solve their clients’ business problems.


Media Agencies are responsible for bringing creative advertising campaigns to the world’s attention. They design media plans for their clients, recommending when, where, and how they should advertise their products and services – and then buying and placing the media on their behalf.


Digital Agencies are specialists in all things online. From websites, to banners, to apps, they create digital creative that helps their clients put their best online foot forward. They make it their business to keep up with the ever-evolving digital landscape, so that their clients can, too.


Experiential Agencies specialise in creating unforgettable real-world brand experiences, with a focus on creating tangible connections between brands and their target audiences. They take care of everything, from coming up with creative event ideas, through to executing every detail on the day.


Along with all the specialist agencies, there are the Full Service Agencies. These are the behemoths that cover everything in-house – from media buying and planning, to building apps from scratch. They’re like a one-stop-shop, constantly evolving to cater to any marketing solution their clients might need.

Getting your foot in the door

Breaking into the advertising industry is no mean feat. It means getting up off the couch and selling yourself, and taking in as much knowledge as you can. Study the communications market in all its diversity, read trade publications closely, and familiarise yourself with New Zealand agencies and their work - so if questioned at interview stage, you can offer up informed opinions, and intelligent observations.

Agencies look for people who are smart, curious, willing to learn, tenacious and resilient. The industry is a mixture of both art and science – you need to be technically savvy and creatively nimble. Team work is an essential part of working in an agency – solution providers and those who are willing to step in and help at critical times, earn respect. As much hard work as there is in this industry, the people are all wonderfully social and know how to have fun. Agency life is full of variety and challenge – many of the previous Comms Council Grads have said, ‘no day is ever the same – we don’t get bored.’

Applications open on 1 August and close on 30 September 2021

We look forward to hearing from you!

For Graduates wanting to get into the industry, we request that you apply by sending Marlen Smith ( your CV and Cover Letter. In the section below there are full details on how to apply and what is required. We strongly urge you to read the details carefully.

The process going forward will be that your CV and Cover letter will be assessed by Marlen Smith. If you are accepted into the initial short list you will be invited to a ‘testing day.’ This involves a series of individual tests and group activities. The work involved is typical of many of the tasks you would do in an agency. From there another shortlist is determined and this group will be invited to meet and present to agencies. Equally agencies will be invited to meet and present to you. Agencies who are present will be looking for Graduates to employ and we will all work together to successfully place Grads into agencies.

Applicants Must:

• Not be fully employed or paid by an advertising or communications agency in a full-time capacity

• Possess a university degree in any discipline – ensure you have completed your degree less than a year ago or you will graduate in time to commence an internship in February 2022.

The Comms Council will now accept applications from international students who are currently studying in New Zealand and who have a minimum 2 year work visa, with the right to live and work in New Zealand. The applicant must also possess a New Zealand university degree in any discipline which has been completed less than a year ago or who will graduate in time to commence a graduate position in February 2022. Agencies will be advised of any international students who apply and are shortlisted under this criteria.


The application requires both a CV and a Cover Letter

Notes from Marlen Smith:

Both agencies and I, place great emphasis on the Cover Letter.

Advertising, is a complex business including that ‘we tell stories.’ It is a combination of both art and science. Really focus on your Cover Letter – it must be a strong reflection of who you are – your story – you need to sell yourself!

Some of the points we need you to include:

A covering letter which includes a personal statement, a head shot photo that is 300H x 300W pixels and answers the following questions:

• Why do you want to get into advertising?

• Name ads you are familiar with and what interests you about them?

• What is unique about you?

• What do you do well?

• What don’t you do well?

Your CV - no longer than 4 pages. Please supply your CV including University subjects, qualifications, and years.

In your Cover Letter and CV please clearly include your email address, mobile number, one other contact number and which University you graduated from. Word documents only.

Email Subject Heading:

Application Comms Council Graduate Programme 2022 – insert your name

Submit your CV and Cover Letter to