A Student’s Perspective — madfest 2021

The Good, the Sad and the Mad

I attended madfest 2021 on day 2 and I have broken down my experience and thoughts regarding the day into three sections. You can skip to whichever section you’d like to read or go through it all. Since I’ll be talking about my personal experience I will explain how I came to attend madfest. I was there to work on a brief alongside other amazing people and present it to natwest. This opportunity was given to me by Sarah and Lisa who run digilearning, a programme of which I am a recent graduate. With that said all the necessary information has been shared, yay for context!

The Good

I used good but I really mean great. Great experience, great people, great weather and finally a great opportunity. Sarah and Lisa always go above and beyond for us and help us gain real work experience whenever they can. Digilearning X Takumi presenting to Natwest are quite possibly the sexiest words I’ve written on my CV and it’s all thanks to the amazing people at each of these companies. 

There are many things I loved about working on this brief so naming only a few will be difficult but I’ll manage or else my hands will hurt and so will your brains.

  1. Working in a team and achieving something together was undeniably one of my favourite parts.
  2. Another was being authentic in how we approach the brief. I remember mentioning to one of the judges on the panel that my generation values authenticity and for that reason any company, brand or person should seek to do what they do best and not get caught in trying to be something they are not. That’s not to say we should not learn and evolve. It is a deep respect and understanding of the two (our truth and our ambition/desire) that can help us create the right balance. Being able to say something like this and feel heard was a mind blowing experience.
  3. They say keep it in threes or keep it in your mouth so my third and last great experience at madfest was presenting. Public speaking to me is as exciting and satisfying as opening a cold can of coke in the middle of summer or taking the first bite of a craving finally fulfilled (waffles at 2am for the win). Inadvertently we go “Ahh” as if that one sip, one bite is enough to satisfy and yet it breeds a greater hunger. I am truly in my element when I can talk about something that excites me and this was a feeling I had long forgotten due to the devastating events of late. This opportunity reminded me of myself and restored some of the confidence and belief I had lost in myself. Presenting with my team was an amazing bonding experience and I felt so proud of the people next to me for inspiring strength and confidence in our work, our voices and our generation.

The Sad

Remember the whole paragraph dedicated to authenticity? Well it would feel incomplete and inauthentic if I did not discuss some of the struggles I faced during madfest and my unfavourite duo that had me feeling bad, sad and mad. 

Every good story starts with context and so does mine. Ever since I set my alarm for 5.50am to the point I sat on my train I did not have a chance to think. The time after that though… The journey to the venue left me with a lot of time alone. Subsequently, the aforementioned duo came to do their thing. Who could they be, you ask? Overthinking and imposter syndrome of course! They are leeches in the swap that is my mind. They are a sadistic version of team rocket adding trouble to my life and making it double. 

This duo amplified my fears and insecurities. The fear was all I could think about. I was afraid that I had forgotten how to be. Talking to people that aren’t netflix characters, smiling and looking people in the eyes, having to socialise again after a massive period of inactivity made me scared. What if I disappoint someone or they all adjust to real life better than I do? What do I do when the world moves fast and I move slow; how can I mask that or change that in the span of a few hours? These thoughts weren’t at the front of my mind the whole day but certain feelings lingered. 

While working on the brief I worried I wasn’t bringing anything of value to my team or that I came off as bossy or someone who likes to steal the limelight when in reality all I did was try my best. During the presentation I forgot to mention one of the ideas and this is word for word what happened in my brain. ‘I missed a good part. WHAT IF THEY THINK I’M NOT CREATIVE ENOUGH BUT THAT’S MY WHOLE THING AND IF I DON’T HAVE THAT WHAT VALUE CAN I REALLY BRING?’ I don’t mean to be mean but for some reason I’ve been conditioned to think the worst of myself even though I really like myself. 

So while madfest was incredible it wasn’t easy. Luckly, I managed to rid my mind of stressful thoughts but reflecting on them is important to me. Our past informs our future and as I am writing this, madfest is in my past. I wanted to break it down and process the events and feelings so I could remember all the good, sad and mad.  

The Mad 

You know what had me going mad? The synergy. Everything from the talks to the innovation brief challenges showcased mad levels of synergy. This event made a clear statement in my eyes; this industry is ever evolving and their greatest strength is the willingness to impart and take on knowledge. Don’t believe me? Let me prove it to you. 

As you know I only came on the second day and was working on the brief with my team so I didn’t get to engage and interact during the peak hours. However! Observations alone did not lead me to make the statements above. When the digilearning graduates (myself included) presented their ideas for the Natwest brief I saw experienced professionals from the industry attentively listening and learning from a group of 16-24 year olds. In my experience anyone who seeks to learn without any prejudice towards how they learn and from whom can make waves in any chosen field. It is no wonder why so many of the companies that were present that weekend are trailblazers. 

  

Ending Note

It’s fair to say I won’t be forgetting madfest 2021 any time soon and it’s not just because of the cute dog and petrol pump drink that are forever ingrained in my brain. The networking, collaborating, recruiting colleagues to steal chairs because there never seems to be enough, all of this fulfilled a promise of disruption in its most creative form, well done madfest. 

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