Female creative collective, Concepts + Cailíní, have collaborated with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) to launch The Chats, a new mentoring programme for students that aims to drive the profile and development of women in the commercial creative industry.

The first programme of its kind in Ireland, The Chats matches female students on TU Dublin’s Advertising Masters (Creative) programme with working female creatives from ad agencies across the city. The goal is for students to benefit from face-to-face honest advice, valuable feedback and personal learnings from top female talent. And to make a friend in the industry in the process.

“The next couple of years are going to be tricky for graduates, so we’re excited to be working with TU Dublin to help make it that bit easier for them,“ said Concepts + Cailíní co-founder Aoife McCleary. “We can’t promise jobs, but we can offer our time and guidance. To be that voice of encouragement when they need it.”

As the pandemic rages on, programmes like The Chats are now more important than ever. With cuts and redundancies rampant across agencies, the nurturing of emerging talent is slipping down the priority list for many. Even before remote working was the norm, placements and internships were difficult to find. Now it’s even tougher out there. So extra help is essential.

For the mentors, it’s a fantastic opportunity for their own personal and professional development. Learning to guide others and offer feedback are crucial in becoming an effective creative leader; a role that the group members plan to step into in the future. Also, as matches are based on discipline (art or copy) they have the chance to share their skills.

“TU Dublin are committed to nurturing talent and delighted to collaborate on this exciting Initiative,“ said Dr. Rosie Hand, Advertising Programme Director of TU Dublin. “It's much welcomed as our students face what must be one of the most challenging times for graduates; the transition from college to embarking on a new career. It's inspiring to see the advertising industry supporting students in this way and I'm positive there will be a mutual benefit where mentors will gain insight and feedback from the students.”

Concepts + Cailíní was launched on International Women’s Day in March 2020 to help retain and celebrate female talent, and tackle the persistent creative gender imbalance in agencies. Despite the high numbers of women studying creative subjects, they make up only 36% of creative departments, and only a handful of those are in Creative Director roles. The aim of the collective is to provide peer-to-peer support, collaboration and skill development, so ultimately more female creatives reach senior leadership roles.

Visit @CreativeCailíní on Instagram to discover tips on being a great creative, to learn more about ‘The Chats’, and to keep an eye on upcoming events and initiatives to drive the movement.