Picture this: You’re a bright-eyed, recent college graduate, equipped with a journalism degree and some real-world copywriting experience in hand. You’ve never worked for an agency before and are eager to get started, but have no idea what’s ahead.
Everyone’s experience is different, but hopefully, with these 7 takeaways for agency success, you’ll be working better, faster, and smarter—and having fun in the process—even as a beginner.
Soak up all the knowledge you can. Take notes, pay attention, and keep your ears open.
Observe how co-workers and clients communicate. Learn how agency organization and creative systems are structured—once you’ve learned how they work for everyone else, see how they work best for you.
Ask for exposure to projects to which you’re not directly assigned. From creative brainstorms to project kickoffs—the more you absorb now, the better you’ll be later.
In previous positions, you might’ve only worked on one or two projects at a time. At an agency, you’ll be juggling multiple clients, and with that, different brand voices, needs, and unique ideas.
Time management is integral to the success of your daily client juggle. At most agencies, time is tracked in 15-minute increments. Crazy, right? But it’s a good thing.
It all comes down to helping the agency be more efﬁcient and proﬁtable. In this fast-paced environment, try to manage your time like you manage your money—don’t waste it.
Not sure where to start? Talk to account or project management personnel—they’re master coordinators by trade and can shed light on tackling to-do lists and maximizing productivity.
If you can get something done in less time than you’ve been given, do it. Got a smaller task due later in the week? Knock it out now to make time for heavier lifts. Time management is personal—ﬁnd what works best for YOU.
In other roles, you might’ve been used to working exclusively with a single smaller team, rarely interacting with anyone outside your “bubble.” The beauty of agencies, big and small, is that they’re hubs of ideas, where the air practically buzzes with creativity.
You’ll always be working with someone from another department—creatives, account service, etc. Each department has its own set of challenges. Get to know how your peers approach their work, so you can apply the learnings to your own.
For example, when it comes to an ad, does the header take precedence over the main visual? Talk with the designer beforehand. Will your out-of-the-box idea resonate with the client? Check with the account exec ﬁrst.
Expedite the problem-solving process by coming prepared with your own answers—this way, your teammates will be better suited in helping you ﬁnd a solution.
To help you along your career path, look for a guide—someone who you admire and respect. This person may be in your department, or not. Within a tight-knit agency, a mentor should be easy to ﬁnd. This person may be a great presenter or a strong leader under pressure. Either way, there’s something you can learn from them and add to your professional toolbelt.
Watch, ask questions, and apply those skills to your own role. Developing these skills and gaining outside perspectives will help promote both your individual growth and your growth within the organization.
If you’re new to the game, it’ll take time to get the hang of things, whether it’s writing brochure copy, designing logos, or animating social posts. An easy task to accomplish in the meantime? Be really great to work with.
Be considerate. Be supportive. Be proactive. Be someone others want to work with.
Unsure how to start a task? Don’t wait—ask for help.
Deadlines approaching? Stay accountable and complete work on time.
Extra bandwidth? Offer to help out with another project (even if you’re not an “assigned” member of that team).
If you’re having problems, speak up and make your voice heard. Letting an issue ﬂy under the radar for too long will neither beneﬁt you nor your coworkers. With tons of questions, ideas, and work being tossed around, you’ll realize how vital constant communication can be. And that’s what’s great about agency life—it can (and will) make you a better communicator.
And that’s OK. Even an industry veteran may have trouble navigating uncharted waters. The most important thing to remember, especially as a beginner, is to learn from those mistakes. In a supportive work environment, team managers are responsible for your development. So, even if you’re plunged in head-ﬁrst on tasks you’ve never encountered, you won’t drown. Someone will be there to show you the ropes—as long as you’re willing to learn them.
Wanting to improve is never a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A sign of strength is to ask for actionable feedback—and be receptive to it. Knowing how to implement that advice could be critical to your growth.
Agency life can be frenetic. There are quick turnarounds and problem solves happening on the ﬂy. For some, that can be incredibly exciting, challenging, and rewarding—all at the same time.
As you get more acquainted with your role, you’ll become more agile and quicker on your feet—and that much more prepared to tackle new challenges and asks.
All in all, agencies operate like theatrical performances—where each person has an equally important role to play. No matter what your role is, even if it’s more behind-the-scenes, the show can’t go on with you. You were hired for a reason—so take advantage of all that agency life has to offer and watch your career blossom. And who knows, maybe you’ll even steal the spotlight.more insights
FOVNDRY (formerly Van Eperen) is an award-winning, fully integrated communications agency that has made its mark in the public and private sectors, plus a variety of membership-based associations since 2004. We craft custom solutions for multiple industries, including: Health & Science, Transportation, Real Estate, Education, Consumer Packaged Goods, and more. With offices in Rockville and Baltimore, our Maryland-based PR and marketing firm also fulfills the creative and branding needs of businesses and organizations in the DMV and beyond.
We’re a certified minority business enterprise (MBE)/disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. As well, FOVNDRY is a woman-owned small business (WOSB) that’s on the federal GSA AIMS schedule (GS07F0312T), and on a mission to help DoD and HHS agencies. Get to know us better in person, and connect with us daily via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.