Monday, 20 August 2007

Reality vs Fantasy

Yes, sometimes clients will do this to you...

Or otherwise known as 'shattering those illusions'.

There's a helluva lot of a discrepancy between what a lot of graduate schemes will tell you, and what the job is really like. If this blog does nothing else, it should help wise you all up about what the job is really like - short of properly experiencing it.

The first job, if you are able to get onto a grad scheme, will undoubtedly be in account management. Now, personally (and again, due to my upbringing - dad's a suit, y'see), I thought the job would have incorporate a helluva lot of strategy from the very beginning. Wrong.

You'll be binding, checking, photocopying and client pleasing, spending an awful lot of time on PowerPoint as you go (though the latter never really leaves you, I won't lie). The pace of life gets really quick, really fast. No dicking about, this is a job, not an extended University booze cruise. Along the way, you do have a lot of fun - you get to have (some) long lunches with the client and the senior agency management, the odd random and fun day out and generally experience a lot of different things.

It's a good thing, really - because it helps you realise just what the meat and drink of the job is straight away, and what each of the different departments in an ad agency do - there's a danger that if you have your heart set on being a planner at first, you'll never really find out what the art buying department, account handlers or production do on a daily basis. No, you get to experience it all, which is great for your learning.

You also begin to realise why a lot of junior account handlers either move into planning or drop out of the industry - it's just not like the land of academia they knew, or the picture painted by the agency.

Now, the job does change. You become more senior, the strategic element of the job gets greater, and it becomes a lot more cerebral. Which is great for some people, but not for everyone - it's why the likes of Anton and myself became planners - plainly, we didn't feel that the job was for us, but we liked the strategic element.

You may have an idea of what you'd like to do now - plainly, a lot of you who are more academic will be thinking either 'planning sounds great' or 'oo err, maybe advertising's not for me - it sounds like a slog'. But you have to experience it to realise where your strengths lie and where you fit in.

Just don't get taken in by fantasy, that's all...

1 comment:

Jack Bauer said...

ah the perfect injection of realism for anyone getting a bit starry eyed.

I can only add to Will's account from a media planning P.O.V.

Now keep in mind that things will differ if you enter into a more smaller agency, but lets stay on the larger ones that are likely to run the grad schemes.

Your early roles in the planning dept will greatly be based around the administration elements of the accounts.

So yes, the checking, the binding, the updating of schedules, the competitive reports, the invoices, booking meeting rooms, raising approval forms , excel spreadsheets, excel spreadsheets, EXCEL SPREADSHEETS, etc will need to be mastered before you move on to the juicy stuff.

But these will allow you to build relationships with clients, media owners and most importantly - your agency peers. (It may be the first time you have worked in a big company - first few months will halp you simply get used to the agency structure, how things work, how much red-tape there is, who's who and who's touched who)

Sure, every now and then an email about a creative brainstorm session will catch your eye and your help will be appreciated a lot. You can also expect to contribute to the strategy documents although its unlikely that you will be expected to write them in Year 1.

As Will mentioned, the pace of life moves fast. Expect to balance your day to day roles with helping out for pitches, getting trained on the numerous tools planners have access to and attending lunches.

Lunches..... they're great. Ridiculously expensive food in the company of your team and some suits who's job depends on how much they 'bumm' you.

So its very important to get on with your team from day 1 - all that shyness you had in uni... forget it. dahling.

So yes it is hard work in the first year but it is very fun and you learn invaluable people management skills that will apply for ANY job.