Last year, I was on my way to graduating university with a marketing degree. But where was I going afterwards? What kind of job would I land? Would it suit me? How long would it take to find something I enjoy? I truly had no idea. What I did know is that, since my introduction to the family computer running Windows 98, I’ve always liked working with computers. During university, I tried launching an e-commerce project which failed badly. I picked up summer marketing jobs and side hustles that gave me a peek into the industry. As it turns out, these introductions in conjunction with school, primed me to enter the marketing industry at an agency. Being immersed in the marketing strategies of a single business is a great experience in itself but imagine the possible learnings from taking part in a multitude of organizations in varying industries.
What did I think it would be like?
Math has never intimidated me, but art has never been my strong suit which means stick figures have always been my go-to. This weakness worried me a little bit, thinking a lot of marketing agencies had to do with the creative side of the business. Fortunately, agencies have various areas of expertise that require different skill-sets. Creative agencies focus on creative messaging, content, and copywriting, whereas media agencies specialize in the targeting, analytics, optimization, and buying side of the industry. Being a numbers guy, it was clear that a media agency was the perfect place to get my foot in the door.
Mistakenly, or perhaps naively, I thought maybe I would come up with some way to radically change a client’s business strategy. Joining any organization, especially at the entry level, is a little daunting. I thought my first real opportunity would be like diving into the deep end, head first, with everyone around holding high expectations. It would be up to me to sink or swim at that point.
My first impressions
The best thing about being the least experienced person in the company is that you have the most room to grow. I was lucky enough to join a very receptive team who treated me as their peer rather than the new guy, fresh out of school. They were always willing to have me shadow them, mentoring me and answering any questions I had. It is amazing how quickly you can learn just being surrounded by experienced professionals who want you to succeed.
When I first started at Time + Space, I was very eager to start contributing. However, what was in store for me was a little different. I went through a significant onboarding/training period, focusing first on learning the ins-and-outs of the company before I started doing any sort of client work. I was given plenty of time to get digital certifications, one-on-one training, attend external events, and get to know every single person in the company. One of the first projects I was given during my on-boarding period was to get certified in several Google Academy for Ads courses. I got up to speed with the advertising platform and the modules tested me on important industry verbiage. In addition to certifications for Google and Facebook, I was also given time to attend webinars for all the software and services we use here.
While knowing how to do your work is undoubtedly important, Time + Space really hit it out of the park when it came to team building. Shortly after my start date, I was encouraged to schedule one-on-one meetings with everyone in the company, at every level. I was skeptical at first, wondering whether it was really that important to meet with everyone. It turns out that this was one of the most helpful ways to become integrated into the company. These meetings gave me the opportunity to not only get to know everyone but to gather important advice and insights that would accelerate my on-boarding process.
The top things I learned
- The only stupid questions are the questions you didn’t ask. If you don’t ask, you will have either missed out on learning something, or there will come a time where it could be embarrassing that you haven’t learned that already.
- Google is your friend. Agency life is brimming with concepts and jargon that can make it difficult for someone new to the industry to keep up. If you find yourself feeling lost, use Google as your first line of defense.
- Learn from your slip-ups. You will make mistakes but having a team who has your back when you falter is a great support.
- Shadow your colleagues and try to learn as much as possible. Agency life provides the perk of working with people with an abundance of experience in a variety of industries. Take advantage of this and absorb the vast amount of knowledge that surrounds you.
- Working for an agency provides an opportunity to work with a variety of clients, rather than just one. And you know what they say: variety is the spice of life. If you enjoy a challenge where each day is never the same as the day before, then agency life is for you.
- Marketing is an industry that is rapidly evolving with technology, and marketers get immersed in these changes. Working for an agency allows you to stay on top of recent developments in marketing and technology through continuing education and interaction with industry peers. Here at Time + Space, we have a weekly meeting where the team gathers to share tips and tricks, and chat about the latest industry trends.
Agency life may not be for everyone. But if you’re eager to dive into the marketing industry, sharpen your digital IQ, work on some really neat projects, and make an impact on a client's business, there’s no better place to start. Instead of working for a single company, an agency provides you with the opportunity to gain insight into many different industries, at all levels of business. I highly recommend this route for any young professional or new graduate looking to gain the best experience possible.
About the Author
Aidan Roy is a Client Strategy Coordinator at Time + Space Media. He joined the company in May 2018 after graduating from St. Francis Xavier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with Major in Marketing. Aidan collaborates with brands, creative agencies, and managers to launch, monitor, and review social and digital advertising campaigns.