Is working for an agency really so awful?

almost 7 years ago from Al M, Designer

  • Timothy McKennaTimothy McKenna, almost 7 years ago

    From the comments already posted, you can see opinions that run the spectrum...and that's honestly the truth when it comes to anything (working in-house, working for a startup, starting your own studio, etc).

    My experience with working in agencies wasn't the greatest, but I also chalk a lot of that up to the local region and culture. I live in somewhat rural area between two very large cities in Pennsylvania. From my experience, there tends to be a lot of the "Big fish in small pond"mentality from agency leadership. One agency I worked for focused heavily on media buying and PR while the design work wasn't the main focus. All of the digital work for websites was done out of house and they never produced any apps. This agency grew out of a lobbying firm and still maintained many government contracts. For me at the time, the fit was wrong because the agency wasn't interested in growth or taking on new challenges (growing a digital team) or willing to learn new services ( Online advertising was foreign to them). When I brought this up to agency president and laid out a business plan, it was treated as a personal affront to her business acumen. I left and went back to working in-house.

    The last agency I worked for was bought and under new management and direction which was exciting, but unfortunately the inexperience of the new owner and his way of setting the culture (always on call, micro-managing design, importance on deals versus quality, no employee confidentiality ) led to many people leaving the first year. I left for many reasons, one being the owner making fun of a private health issue that I shared with him so I can make arrangements for my lunch hour.

    This was my experience and I assume there are some people with similar experiences as well. What I learned from those experiences is importance of vetting out any potential employer. Look at their client list, see their work, learn about the leadership, talk with colleagues about the agency's reputation, and ask these questions in an interview with the agency. My experience was crap, but I have colleagues who run a small agency in my area and they do fantastic work...and I can say with certainty it comes from leadership.

    The opportunity to do interesting work at an agency exists, but it requires a lot of research into the agency and their clients.

    Just my thoughts.

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