Starting your career in an agency can feel like entering a Brave New World. Most likely, you will have wandered in from the time-abundant pastures of higher education to find yourself in the deep end of a hectic, pressurized and frighteningly real world. You could be forgiven for asking yourself what the hell possessed you to end up there.
But then again, you probably wouldn’t be there if you didn’t fancy a challenge. The truth is, agency life can be tough, but it can also be brilliantly rewarding – with opportunities to get involved with fantastic work and inspirational people right from day one. With a bit of courage and an unflinchingly positive attitude, it’s possible to make a big splash even as you’re just dipping your toes into the water…
5 Tips for anyone starting out in an agency:
1. Relax. You’ve done the hard part.
As the emails start piling up in your inbox, you might think that it’s all up hill from now on. But in fact, you’ve passed the hardest test of all: you got the job. Don’t forget, that you were hired for a reason, and it probably wasn’t your years of industry experience. No one expects you to know everything right away; instead you’ll be expected to grow into the potential that you obviously have.
2. Build relationships. With everyone.
Ultimately, interaction with other human beings is at the heart of any successful organisation, and this applies to you as much as anyone. Take any opportunity you can to get to know your clients, suppliers, and colleagues – try to understand their roles and responsibilities and where they fit into the bigger picture. It will help you get a sense of where you stand, and more importantly, where you can go.
3. Use your inexperience to your advantage
Having been a cash-strapped student for the past few years, and now firmly standing at the bottom rung of the career ladder, you are actually in an enviable position. Unlike some of the more senior people around, your ear should still be close to the ground. Chances are, you will be first to hear about the latest trends, while you should still remember what it’s like to live out in the ‘outside’ world. Never assume that everyone already knows what you have to say: they almost certainly won’t.
4. Start Something
It’s easier said than done, but if you can be the person behind a new initiative, you’ll immediately feel that you’ve made your first mark at your agency and even in the industry. Start a blog, set up a netball team and bring cakes in every second Wednesday. With fresh blood come fresh ideas: if something great isn’t already in place, it’s because no one’s had the spark to think of it yet.
5. Speak Up
Perhaps the most important of all the tips, but also the most difficult is: never be afraid to let your voice be heard, whether it’s your first day or your one thousandth, and put your hand up for anything you think you can reasonably do. If you can confidently get your ideas across in your first week, then years down the line it will be second nature.
Josh Dickins has been a Consultant at Sparkler for 18 months, having joined as a Graduate. He is the founder and editor of Sparking Conversation – an industry blog written and run entirely by Sparkler’s Graduate Consultants.