Working Girl How-To: Thriving in an Agency

AgencyI'll admit that I never believed I would wind up working in advertising. I was a serious journalist, set on pursuing a fulfilling career in the magazine industry. But then I experienced a change of heart – and the fast-paced world of PR and advertising was so alluring. A year later and two agency jobs in, I can confidently say that I love what I do. Whether you're in your first agency job, wondering how creative agencies work, or are simply curious to see what the crazy world of deadlines, creative briefs and pitch meetings entails, read on if you want to know what it takes to thrive!

Master the art of professional casual, fast – Every agency that I've worked with has lived by the golden rule of professional casual. Meaning? Employees are courteous, professional and have a deeply rooted work ethic, but addressing all higher ups by first name and cracking a beer open on a late night or Friday isn't unheard of. It's important to get to know your agency colleagues on a more personal level, and maintaining a fun, easy-going professional casual relationship with them is key.

Own your deadlines – Like any job you'll have deadlines to meet, but I've found that working for an agency entails more deadlines than most. Coming up with a system that best suits you to meet your deadlines for deliverables, timelines, recaps and more will be important for your success. As for me? I stick to keeping two separate planners around – one for personal and one for work.

Contribute to meetings – This may seems like a no-brainer, but actively contributing to meetings – even as an entry-level employee – will make you stand out as a valuable employee. Especially when working for a creative agency, any on-brand, outside-of-the-box ideas for clients are welcomed and appreciated.

Prepare to work outside of the 9-to-5 grind – It's true – long hours are expected at agencies, but not consistently. During times when pitches are being prepared and new campaigns are on-boarding, though, be prepared to pitch a tent in your office! Kidding, maybe. However, If you play your cards right, you might just wind up working for an agency that lives by the "work hard, play hard" philosophy, which include perks for your hard work like summer Fridays, a flexible work schedule, in-office beer carts and more.

Have you ever worked for a creative agency? Give us your best tips for thriving in the agency environment below!