Alex Sudheim is a Senior Copywriting Lecturer at The Independent Institute of Education's Vega School in Cape Town, and a practising professional copywriter. Careers24 chatted to Alex to find out more about his career and share some of his advice for others looking to get into this line of work both in terms of copywriting and lecturing.
After graduating with an English, Politics and Economics degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, Alex started writing stories about the more offbeat aspects of his home city’s culture and people. A series of these vignettes was published in the Mail & Guardian.
“Soon I was the KZN Arts & Culture correspondent for the M&G. For four years I wrote about art, theatre, dance, music and cinema in KZN and won the Thomas Pringle Award from the South African English Institute for my efforts,” he says.
He was then head-hunted by an executive from the prestigious international ad agency Ogilvy, and offered a job as a copywriter. At the time, he says, he didn’t even know what a copywriter was.
“My school guidance counsellors appeared oblivious to the existence of ‘copywriting’ as a viable and lucrative vocation for students who loved words, language, arguing, and articulating ideas," he says.
“But soon I was crafting concept-driven narrative for brands such as Old Mutual, Unilever, Mondi, Wonderbra, East Coast Radio and more in mediums from print to billboard to online to interactive. It was exciting, fun and it paid well. How come the guidance counselling profession hadn’t heard of this?”
After making the transition from copywriter to copywriting lecturer seven years ago, he hasn’t looked back.
“I continue to be inspired and fulfilled by guiding hungry young minds toward richly rewarding academic and professional careers. In my tenure as Senior Copywriting Lecturer thus far I have navigated my students to 11 Loeries, including the coveted Campaign Gold in 2017, and 6 Pendorings.”
Alex shared what his day to day looks like. To make the teaching and learning experience at Vega a more dynamic one, the creative degrees (Copywriting, Graphic Design, Multimedia Design) are broken into theory classes; craft classes; individual feedback sessions and in-studio work.
“Daily activities predominantly involve lecturing, consulting and critiquing. Aside from the classes themselves, much time is spent on curriculum development – course content is in constant transformation in order to remain aligned with tumultuous changes in industry.”
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DID YOU KNOW?
The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) is a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH Group, Africa's largest private education provider. The IIE is the largest, most accredited registered private higher education institute in South Africa, and the only one accredited by The British Accreditation Council (BAC), the independent quality assurance authority that accredits private institutions in the UK. By law, private higher education institutions in South Africa may not call themselves Private Universities, although registered private institutions are subject to the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight as Public Universities.
The IIE has a history in education and training since 1909, and its brands - Rosebank College, Varsity College, The Business School at Varsity College and Vega - are widely recognised and respected for producing workplace-ready graduates, many of whom become industry-leaders in their chosen fields. The IIE offers a wide range of qualifications, from post-graduate degrees to short courses, on 20 registered higher education campuses across South Africa.