ten things everyone under 25 who works in agencies needs to know

1) We’re in the business of communication and persuasion, not putting-cool-stuff-on-screens (be they tv, pc or mobile).  Making sure that the right message reaches the right people is what matters.  Deciding which media is right for the job is vital – but the answer might just as easily be ‘supermarket car park experiential sampling’ as ‘treasure hunt across the internet’.  Embrace the whole media mix.

2) Get shit-hot at admin.  Boring perhaps, but an essential skill that you will need however senior you become.  The person who has done their contact report and handed in their expenses is the person who is leaving on time on Friday afternoon.  And the person who had that vital document at their fingertips during the Great Pitch Crisis is the person who is going to get a really good review at their next appraisal.

3) Don’t forget that you can’t produce great work when all you do is work.  Don’t get sucked into a who-can-stay-latest competition.  Go home on time sometimes, pop out for a walk at lunchtime, take all your holidays.  See that new film, go the local arts festival, exercise, spend a day at the seaside.  Work is only part of your life.  And knackered, uninspired, unhappy people produce rubbish work.

4) And work somewhere that works for you.  Find a place to work that’s a good fit with your values, work ethic, lifestyle and career aspirations. Somewhere that doesn’t put seventy of you in an open-plan windowless room accessorised by strip lighting and constantly ringing phones. Work with people who not only inspire and challenge you but also make you feel appreciated and valued.  If your hair is falling out or you have stress acne, that’s nature’s way of telling you to call the recruiter – and as a bonus you’ll probably get a pay hike when you move.

5) Have a career plan.  And a back-up plan.  Know roughly where you’d like to be headed and what you’ll need to do to get there.  Enlist a mentor or life coach if your plans are on the fuzzy side.  Lay the foundations now for the future with suitable-for-work social media profiles, lap up any training you’re offered and turn up at every industry event you can wangle an invitation to.

6) Be loyal to your employer – to a point.  If you’re happy working there and times are good, commit to the agency you’re in.  Be positive, get involved and don’t badmouth them, even outside the office.  Don’t bounce around agencies for the sake of a change or you’ll start to look like a bad bet for recruitment- and if you work outside a big city you may quickly run out of places to work at.

7) But don’t stay on a sinking ship.  If they’re already on the fourth round of redundancies your turn will come soon.  Start job hunting as an already employed person is a more attractive candidate and in a much stronger negotiating position than someone who has just been made redundant.

8) When in doubt, style it out.  Everyone Else Is Totally Just Winging It. If you look confident and sound confident you can get away with almost anything.

9) However on the subject of style, the client may misinterpret your cutting edge hipster outfit as ‘random stuff that was on the floor when I woke up this morning’.  Tone it down a bit – or if you are wearing stuff-from-the-floor, smarten up.  Work is, well, work and you should be dressed for a meeting not for a bar or doing the decorating.  Even if you have an in-the-office-paperwork-day, sod’s law says that your most important client will unexpectedly turn up mid morning.

10) Express yourself – not just in the office with your own ideas, insights and opinions (while bearing in mind that there’s a time and place to tell the boss they’re wrong…),  but also on a blog, Instagram, flickr, medium, in a song, in art, anywhere.  Get creative, after all that’s the industry we’re in.

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