Whether you’ve been at your job for five years, one year or one month, it’s good to ground yourself and remember where you started. As the newest hire here at Sweeney and in the agency field in general, I have already learned the very basics of agency life. If you are a new hire like me, go ahead and wipe all of the previous notions you have in your head about life at an agency and strap in for a real talk!
1. Prioritizing Is Everything
Yeah, life at an agency isn’t as organized as you may think, and if you’re anything like me, you CRAVE a structured environment. With so many teams and moving parts, it is easy for projects to get lost in the rubble. With this in mind, buy a notebook! Write all of your tasks down and number your tasks from most important to least important in terms of quality and deadlines. Remember, client work always comes first! Keep this note in an easy-access spot on your desk or pin it to your corkboard. This way, you can’t avoid the tasks on your plate even if you want to, and it will serve as a constant reminder to get stuff done and conquer the day!
2. 1 Day At Work = 2 Weeks Of Learning In College
Even though you might have nailed college (barely, but nailed it), you don’t know as much as you think you do. I like to say 1 day at work is at least 2 weeks of learning in college, maybe even more! You will find that your internships and involvement in student organizations will really benefit you when you hit the real world. Don’t get me wrong, college was a rewarding experience, but you won’t get a taste of what it’s like to be in the field until you’re in it! You learn as you go and yes, sometimes you do just have to Google things!
3. Your Co-Workers Are Your New Best Friends
Along with Google, you will also get to know your co-workers very well. You’ll find that you talk to them more than anyone else and even think about them in uncalled for moments, like when you’re in line at Subway or at the grocery store. Your co-workers are now an important part of your life. It’s important to understand that everyone has different styles of communicating, especially in moments of stress or in the planning process for a project. One of your biggest challenges in this new role is learning how to adapt to others’ communication styles and effectively getting your point across. So, remember, be open and talk with your coworkers when you aren’t understanding them. At the end of the day, you’ll have to work alongside them and count on them to produce some of the agency’s most important work.
Since you’re at the bottom of the barrel, of course you need to listen to the higher-ups, but more than that, I mean listen to everything. Listen even when they don’t know you’re listening. (Privacy is important, don’t invade anyone’s privacy!) Listening in on meetings with clients and even listening in on meetings for projects you aren’t working on is one of the best ways to jump in and learn the most. Catching on to things like professional tones and important vocabulary such as the corporate “we” are key in the business world. When your boss takes you aside for 10 minutes to tell you how they started in this business or to tell you a funny story, listen. Take every chance you get to not only learn about your clients and your industry, but to learn about the people around you in your work environment.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Get A Little Creative
You don’t have to be on the creative team to get a little artsy. In this field, every team should be creative. Keep an open mind and be inspired. I spark creativity just by looking at funky artwork or even reading a book. Looking at pieces created by others allows your mind to explore, even when you don’t know it’s happening. Go visit your local art gallery, read a weekly blog, head to vimeo.com or even start a bullet journal! I heard through the grape vine that doodling is actually good for you… Creative is much more than art… Creative is problem solving, strategizing, brainstorming, writing, the list goes on… Allow yourself to get your creative juices flowing whether you’re artsy or not!
6. The Client Is Always Right
Ok, I’m sure you knew this one. Sure, the client doesn’t always pick what we recommend, but this keeps us on our toes! Disagreement allows you to problem solve and brainstorm in ways you never knew you had the potential for. You’ll find your relationships with your clients will be ever-changing, and you may feel like you understand them one day and not the next. But this is okay. Think about it, how can you grow if you are never challenged?
7. Dive In
Dive in whole-heartedly. Give your all and it won’t go unnoticed. Love your job and it will love you back! It’s important to stay up to date with all of the latest trends in marketing and public relations, but you knew that. If not for this job, I would have never known about French’s Mustard’s weird mustard ice cream stunt or McDonald’s trippy Egg McMuffin ad. I admit that sometimes I listen to this McDonald’s advertisement as background noise when I need a little inspiration – like when I’m writing a blog. This is what I mean when I say do whatever it takes to get those creative juices flowing! Being immersed in your field allows you to perform better at the job and be a passionate employee. You know what they say… choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life!
Now after the real talk, take some time to reflect and see which of these things you need to add to your to-do list in that notebook of yours. You’d be surprised at how much a piece of paper, listening, reading a book and keeping an open mind can help you in agency life. Now I am going to bookmark this and read it one year into my career so that when things aren’t so new, I am reminded to stay grounded and hit the refresh button.