How to land an agency role?

almost 4 years ago from Joseph Barrientos, Sr. Visual Designer

  • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, almost 4 years ago

    DON'T DO IT.

    I wrote this in caps just to catch your attention. Not to yell. So sorry :(

    Anyways, I've worked at big agencies and small agencies and they are all terrible.

    1. Pay sucks. No matter where you go the pay is pretty trash compared to non-agency companies. The biggest reason is employees are a huge risk to a business model with such thin profit margins. Imagine running a company where, at any given time, 10-15% of your employees are getting paid to do work for clients you don't even have yet. Now imagine that happening and a paying client canceling a project or leaving the engagement for whatever reason. For these types of things and general greed, agencies pay like shit.

    2. The billable hour is terrible. If you want to talk about ethics and morals ask any agency if they accurately bill clients. Better yet, ask the employees if they accurate bill. Not saying people fluff their hours but since most agencies are time + materials hourly billing is the core of the revenue model and if its not being met you don't get its shitty.

    3. A lot of work doesn't make it to reality. A lot of work is changed because clients suck. A lot of work gets changed cause "our CEO really likes green" or "our Marketing Director doesn't like how this paragraph wraps". Not lying, I had someone tell me "these paragraphs look odd on mobile. And all the person was referencing was how they naturally wrapped on a device...

    4. Hours suck terrible. Especially if the client director or project manager is afraid to push back on the client. I've watched Directors go home at 4 PM every day expecting anyone beneath them to do all the work until late nights. On many occasions, I've stayed until 12-1AM to get work done because a PM or client director wouldn't push back cause they didn't want to make the client mad. All this so a timeline doesn't get pushed out...which it does because the client doesn't respond in a reasonable amount of time.

    5. The projects are rarely good. While working at a Branding Studio (big red horn startup branding) the branding team (note not all teams) got to literally create brands from scratch. That was cool. Every one else campaigns, outdoor ads or microsites. Any established client we had (non-startup) work was "busy work". Meaning, work that the client didn't have time to do themselves or the work wasn't important enough to allocate time. Agencies rarely get work worth doing. Why give an agency your biggest product when they don't know shit about the brand, business, audience, etc as intimately as the company who created it?

    6. Did I mention the work is never what you think it'll end up being? It's never what was pitched because someone doesn't like the design or it can't be built to full-spec in the timeline or...the best one...not enough budget to get it built, etc. It sucks. Less control over the overall outcome and finished product.

    More than happy to chat more about my experience in the agency world. I've worked at large, 1000+ employee agencies, award-winning agencies, branding agencies that work with premier startups (Caspers, etc) and small, 20+ employee agencies.

    They all literally had the same exact issues mentioned above.

    I can tell you know, there is nothing fun about agency life or working at one. If I could restart my career I'd have never gone there. My salary ended up being about 20k less than it would've had I gone corporate or startup because agencies suck.

    1 point
    • Yannic NachnameYannic Nachname, almost 4 years ago

      Thanks for your insights. In what kind of company do you work now?

      0 points
      • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, almost 4 years ago


        I will say the biggest upside to an agency is access to people (and possibly clients). So if you plan on going freelance it could help.

        However, not sure it'd help as much as having access to leadership in a startup or corp.

        0 points