Manchester Masters winners announced

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Click to visit the Manchester Masters websiteLast week, the winners of the Manchester Masters graduate training programme were announced. Here, theEword founder and director Al Mackin talks about his involvement in the project’s judging process.

I was honoured to be invited to be a judge at the first annual Manchester Masters, a pioneering scheme set up by Tangerine PR, in partnership with Manchester City Council, the NWDA and NESTA.

About Manchester Masters

The aim was to give a selection of graduates the opportunity to spend a year working in the creative, PR and media industry in Manchester, with a master’s degree provided on completion. As well as the paid placements, students also get to live rent free in a city centre apartment, have their own business mentor, free membership to the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Manchester Publicity Association and even a travel card to help them to get around the city. It's quite a package for someone who aspires to work in this industry, and is especially useful in the current climate, where it's becoming harder for graduates to find positions. Candidates were asked to make a 30 second video for the competition, which would form the basis of their application.

The judging took place over the 7th and 8th of April, with 50 students making it through to the first day of boot camp. This was reduced to 20 by the second day, and then a final ten were picked to win Manchester Masters.

View some of the Manchester Masters entry videos

The two days were pretty intense...the candidates were thrown in at the deep end, and were given an hour to trek around the city to find something that they believed epitomised Manchester. Despite the early start they dug up some fantastic items (literally, in some cases!) and spoke at length about why they thought their item, or items, related to the city. There was a real understanding of what makes Manchester the city it is, and some excellent work considering how early in the day it was.

The quality of the candidates meant that the culling session at the end of the first day was hard, and took longer than expected, but we managed to whittle the group down to 20 finalists.

The final

The final day was even more intense, and the students’ euphoria at getting through to the second round was no doubt tempered by another 8am start! To make matters worse, everyone was asked to carry out research on three subjects before they returned. Judging by the stacks of printouts, and the analysis that some of the students did, they wouldn’t have had much time to sleep. Just like working for a real PR/Digital agency!

The first task for the bright-eyed candidates was to build a wooden framework in less than four minutes. The last time I had to do something that complicated was when we put together theEword’s office furniture (we called it team building) and with seven candidates per framework the task required a good standard of teamwork.

It's worth noting at this point that the candidates weren't judged on their success in the tasks per se, but the activities were used as opportunities for the judges to see how they all worked together.

While building the framework, the candidates were taken off for one-on-one interviews with the judges, which meant that the teams were constantly having members taken away, and then returned, with the expectation that they slotted seamlessly back in to their team. It was a fantastic idea that simulated the real world.


The final judging session to pick the ten winners was tough, but we then had the unenviable task of telling ten students that they were unsuccessful. The good news was that the following day, 25 companies would be available to meet with them to discuss positions within the industry, before the winners were informed.

It has to be said that the team at Tangerine, including Sandy, Lyndsey, Lindsay, Lee, Malin, and countless others, worked tirelessly all day to make the Manchester Masters a smooth-running and enjoyable experience for both the judges and the candidates. It was also a pleasure working with the other judges, and I'm looking forward to taking on a winner and to the Manchester Masters in 2010.

See the ten Manchester Masters winners.