In college, I would sit with hundreds of other advertising students and listen to successful ad people talk about their agency experiences. Most of them mentioned hard work, long hours and collaboration. But, they left out a few things I wish someone had told me as a new creative.
1) Timesheets are evil.
When you work for an agency, you have to account for every minute of your day – what you did, who you did it for and how long it took you to do it. At times, I’ve considered stabbing myself with a sharp pencil just to get out of filling out my timesheet. Unfortunately, we don’t have pencils, much less a pencil sharpener, at the office.
2) There are these things called deadlines.
In school, you’re given weeks, sometimes months to come up with brilliant ideas. At an agency, you’re lucky to have a week, sometimes you only get a few hours. Before you freak out, remember advertising is up and down. Some days will be really crazy, i.e. you won’t sleep (especially if you’re a designer), but other days, you’ll get to leave early.
3) Don’t miss fridays.
There’s something magical about friday. It’s the day people hang out in the halls, watch movies, take long lunches and count the hours until the weekend. Don’t be tempted to skip fridays at the office – trust me, it’s the best day of the work week.
4) Hang out with your coworkers.
If everyone’s going to a baseball game after work or heading to lunch, go with them. It’s here, away from work, that you really get to know your coworkers. These bonding sessions will make it easier for you to share ideas with other creatives and come up with really strong creative.
5) Don’t forget you work for the client.
Contrary to popular belief, advertising isn’t about winning addys or pencils or some other industry award. It’s about helping clients. On every project, your goal should be to create a campaign that meets the client’s needs in a creative way.
For more about life in an ad agency, check out Hey Whipple, Squeeze This and Pick Me: Breaking Into Advertising and Staying There