5 Takeaways from Working 365 Days at an Advertising Agency

I crossed my college graduation stage, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, just 446 days ago. My job at an advertising agency called BIGEYE was secured, and I had just 26 days off between that walk across the stage and my walk through the front door of the agency. While I can not possibly write everything I’ve learned between then and now, I’m hitting a few highlights of my lessons learned in this first year of being a full-time, functioning adult.
Over the past year working in an advertising agency, I have learned a lifetime of knowledge. If you’re even slightly thinking about a career in the advertising industry, be sure to keep reading, as I unpack 5 key takeaways from this last wonderful, whirlwind of a year at an ad agency.

1. Keep a warm heart, but grow a thick skin

In the advertising industry it is important to be open and develop relationships with those you work with. Producing creativity requires a lot of vulnerability. However, growing thick skin is essential because our jobs require us to chip away at a marble block of ideas until we’ve created a true work of art for each project. You can not afford to be overly sensitive.

2. Agency casual vs. college casual

A common misconception is that because agency office environments tend to be more innovative and less corporate, there is a lower expectation of professionalism. Which to many people translates into ripped jeans and rolling in to work right on time. However, advertising agencies are still functioning businesses with clients and deadlines to meet. All of those professional advisories you heard in school still ring true in an agency setting. So, wear your hipster glasses or those ripped jeans you love, but do so with style, class, and professionalism – you’ll never know who you are trying to impress.

3. Play hard, but work harder

Work life balance is something everyone looks for in a job, but can be difficult to find. While the advertising industry is known to run on a vicious 24/7 cycle, finding a company like BIGEYE who respects those boundaries is crucial. Agency life is not for the faint of heart, there will be late nights and early mornings. But, if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. Plus, there is nothing like the comradery of your teammates pouring a beer and giving a cheers to a job well done!

4. Jack of all trades

Collaborative environments allow for the opportunity to dive into multiple projects, opportunities, clients, etc. Be a sponge – soak up and absorb all that you can. Coming straight out of college I lacked real world experience and didn’t know where inside the agency I belonged. I’ve learned that regardless of the department you’re placed in – you can always learn more about the industry itself. Make it a goal to learn all you can about each department in the agency. Stay proactive and make lasting connections. Make your absence be felt and have the courage to jump in and contribute.

5. Home is where the culture thrives

Talent is nothing without the right environment and culture to thrive in. The BIGEYE team members are more than just my co-workers, they are my family. These are not just people I see from 9am-5pm, but the ones who I make plans with on the weekends, who bring me soup when I’m out sick, provide meals and helping hands when my house had hurricane damage. Protecting agency culture is important. Build a team with people who will be the best fit, not just because they have the best resume. We can teach skills, we can’t teach attitude and drive.  

The takeaway

“Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes…” are lyrics from an incredible broadway show and a great reminder that there are countless moments in a year that measure our knowledge, our passions, our failures and our successes. Working in an advertising agency this past year has taught me more about myself and my capabilities than any other experience I’ve had before. The hustle and bustle of a non-stop, unpredictable day is not for everyone. It is for the bold, it is for the courageous, and it was the perfect choice for me.

Author: LeAnne Ball, Agency Coordinator

And More