Happy belated New Year, party people!
In the spirit of reflecting, recapping and re-anything honestly, because it’s January and all I can think of is change, I’d like to share the teeny, tiny bits of wisdom I acquired working at a real, live creative agency. But first, there are a few things you need to know about said agency:
- Blue Sky is an itsy-bitsy boutique agency in Atlanta specializing in regional work.
- I worked as a copywriting intern for 8 months.
- I never once had to get coffee. Though I did bring coffee from the kitchen to one of the account ladies once, cause I was getting myself some.
Now here’s the good stuff:
agency life is way easier than school
At The Creative Circus, we’re basically living in an idea incubator. It can get really hot, uncomfortable and sometimes sticky. There’s a lot of pressure on us freaks to constantly churn out new ideas. Not only new ideas, but never-before-seen, un-student-y, fully formed, book-worthy campaigns. In an agency, a lot of the hard work is done for you. For the most part, your job (especially as an intern or junior) is to come in on a client they already own and continue working on a campaign they’ve already sold. Literally your only requirement is to not totally screw it up. Look at the work that’s come before you, and make more of it. Kind of like that assignment in English class where you had to write a poem in the style of someone else, (I always chose Sylvia Plath, but that’s irrelevant) it requires little to no creative ingenuity. Which brings me to my next point…
agency life is way harder than school
Working day in and day out on the same 4 clients can be exhausting. It can feel suffocating, monotonous, and just plain boring. It can interfere with other creative projects you’re working on because it takes a lot of energy. It is not, I repeat, not, as glamorous as all our circus teachers would have us believe. But…
money is awesome
I mean, do I need to explain that? Getting a paycheck, even a small, intern-sized paycheck, is totally worth it. It allows you to stress less about how you’re going to pay rent and focus your energy on that novel you’re working on, or planning that trip to Iceland. But it’s not just money that keeps you coming back everyday. It’s the thrill of the elusive new client, because in any agency…
you live for the pitch
Amidst the daily grind, there is always something to look forward to, the inevitable new client pitch. I was fortunate enough to be included on a few new client briefs, and that, my friends, is when the big dogs come out to play. It was a beautiful thing to watch my fellow creatives, the ones who only the day before had been helping me make the latest Christmas HoneyBaked Ham email not suck, come alive. Even more beautiful was sharing my own ideas and being included as an equal. I was part of something bigger than the cogs in the agency machine. I was part of a reinvention, a discovery. Not gonna lie, it’s a rush. And the best part of it is sharing it with your co-workers. It’s a bonding experience, which is very important, especially in a small shop. After all…
agency is family
You succeed together and you fail together. You get lunch together and you get accidentally drunk at happy hour together. Through the ups and downs, the monotony and the new pitch madness, your agency peeps are your everything. Be nice to them, get to know them, try to like them. It really helps if you can do all three, but two will work. And I’m not just talking about fellow creatives here. Contrary to popular belief…
account people are not idiots
Yes, they can be infuriating because they have to speak for the client, but ultimately, if they are doing their job well, they are looking to produce work that is both creatively stimulating and client approved. Who cares if your work is groundbreaking if the client ain’t gonna buy it? Maybe I was #blessed to have amazing women to work with on the account team, and maybe in some agencies the account folks are stupid, but I think they are just smart in a different way. As long as there is a mutual respect between account and creative, you will do great work. Until the client gets involved and ruins everything. Let’s be real, you can…
always blame the client
The client is a good scapegoat because you don’t have to see them everyday, they’ll 99.9% of the time never hear what you say about them and a common enemy brings people together. To be clear, you shouldn’t make it a habit to shit talk about anyone, but if you’re up against a crazy deadline, its much better to vent about an ambiguous entity than the lovely account manager sitting directly below you. Especially when the second floor is a loft.
Well there you have it, folks. For those students wondering if you should get an internship, I say “ya! go for it!” For those of you who don’t really want an internship I say “focus on school, smart move!” It’s really a personal choice. For me, I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity kinda fall into my lap and I’m really glad it did. Invaluable experience that I am super-duper grateful for.
Peace, Love & Client-blaming