The last two weeks at work have given me time to pause and reflect a little on my career - because of two key moments: the first was passing my probationary period and the second was conducting interviews with candidates for another role at my level in the agency.
Ordinarily, I think that passing probation isn't really something that too many people celebrate; case in point - I remember in a previous role, when I was past probation, I mentioned it to my manager when I got in that morning and he stopped and turned to me and said “so?”.
But it’s big for me, after working 13+ years in marketing with various companies, towards the end of last year I thought I needed a new challenge - so I made the jump to work on the agency side. So passing three months, whilst also managing to maintain Client relationships I think is a cause to celebrate just a little.
That’s not to say the first few months weren’t tough. These were probably the biggest lessons:
- The Rhythm of Business: You don’t have the luxury of saying “hmmm, I’ll get to that”. You have to get to it, and soon. The comparison I would make is that you are in a room slowly filling up with water and there’s water coming in through the walls and you plug one hole, then another hole leaks and you repeat this process for a while until you get comfortable knowing that you’re not going to stop it all but you can manage the water level.
- No Two Days are the Same: If you’re moving through your work, you’ll notice that there’s never really a consistency between the days. One day I’m working on Linkedin Corporate Strategy, Social Media Posts and Copy, National Retail Instore Executions - the next I’m all over Partner Comms for an NFT Marketplace, developing a video ad, Pitching for New Business, and consuming research papers to better understand a new product. You don’t enjoy that kind of variation at a corporate company - you are very siloed to the specialisation of the role.
- Find the Right People and Learn: I’ve really benefited from working hard to quickly build relationships with the key people I work with - the person I replaced who moved sideways, my peers, my manager and the wider team - and it’s for a less obvious reason. When you interview, the easy question is “What is the culture like” and you’ll get varied answers but when you get to know others, lean on them for help or advice, you get a better sense of where you are working and who you’re working with.
- There’s no Cavalry Coming: Clients bring you in to do a job, they are asking (often at times) to do something that they can’t do or are unable to do, as they (also often at times) have limitations to what they can do. So there is a lot of empowerment in that dynamic, for us to then come and say “yes, we can do that” and then get the team into a huddle and work out how you’re going to do it and present back.
Other interesting lessons are things like - cutting meetings from an hour to 30 minutes because you need the time to complete the work and whilst you’re in meetings, tasks don’t progress; completing timesheets as you’re doing the work rather than retrospectively which is like trying to remember what happened on a drive home a week ago; ensuring that the creative serves both the client and the agency’s objectives and expectations; handling client rejection despite knowing you did your best work, which honestly feels a lot like IRL; or the slippery slopes of budgeting, and managing the delicate balance between hours worked and the committed budget - although, still trying to manage that one.
But the payoff from making the leap has been very rewarding because I’ve instantly overcome the main objection raised by employers: not enough specific industry experience.
Working agency side has been incredibly exciting because now I get to work in industries and with projects that I know I would never have gotten close to if I had applied to work there - but my years of experience in marketing are valued, and that gets me a seat at the table to contribute and grow both myself and represent the agency.
Joshua White is a client director at Five by Five Global in Sydney, the independent agency that specialises in launch campaigns.