When we were still in undergraduate studies, we were very active in looking at marketing careers. As we talked to and interviewed marketing and public relations professionals, they all gave us at least one consistent piece of advice: Make sure you know if you are a brand/company person or an agency person.
We didn't think there was that big of a difference. Plus, as we read hiring reports about the industry in the early 2000s, most young marketing professionals tried starting in the agency realm first.
So what's the big deal?
It's all about the workplace environment. Agencies have the reputation of being an "work hard, play hard" industry. Sure, we experienced that mentality when we were in the agency world — at the office bright and early, drinks during lunch, but then burning the oil at 8–9 p.m. because the client wanted something else, fast, and we had to deliver.
It's a rush. But in many cases, not the rush people are looking for. In that case, working on the client side, where there is more structure, more policy, and hopefully a balanced infrastructure, could bode well for the person not interested in the agency life.
We would say that it is interesting to see both sides, client side and agency. The obvious benefit of doing that is knowing what each party is going through. Getting a chance to experience the high times and the headaches on each end can make you a valuable person to a team.
Now we talked at length about our experience as a millennial in the early 2000s, but what about today's Millennials? Are our generational colleagues still flocking to the agency life?
According to a piece from the 4A's SmartBrief, the answer is yes. They believe that as long as agencies continue to allow them to be creative, they will continue to search for and stay at agencies. Even with the growing uncertainty of the client/agency relationship, agencies are still popular with the under 40 crowd.
And that's not a bad thing.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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