I must admit it up front. I’m a die-hard agency gal. I love the pace, the variety, and the exposure to smart people. Most of all, I love that my job requires me to be a life-long learner. It keeps me on my toes, on top of the news, politics, and emerging technologies, the works.
Perhaps what I love most, though, is the opportunity agency life has given me to customize my career; to have some control and to navigate a path to meet my personal and professional goals.
A great agency experience should be a highly customized one. But increasingly, I find too many people don’t have the confidence to customize their careers. They are either afraid to ask or, dare I say, unwilling to put in the extra energy and effort to have a custom experience.
Make no mistake, carving a unique path does take extra effort. But, as it’s been said before, what you put in is what you get out.
For the most ambitious, passionate and engaged employees, there are so many ways to customize an agency experience. Here are a few:
Custom geographies. Most agencies have multiple offices in different cities and states. The truth is, agencies need to go where the talent is. So there is flexibility to live and work in a place that inspires you.
Opportunities to see the world. For those of us that did not grow up jet setting, agency life is full of opportunities to travel the country and the world. New business pitches and clients in interesting locations provide chances to travel.
Our firm has clients in Munich, Tokyo, London, Paris and Sydney. Volunteer to hop on an assignment with a far-flung client and away you go.
It rewards the intellectually curious. Agencies need to see around corners for their clients. They must stay ahead of trends in order to bring their clients new insights and ideas.
That means that the best agencies want voracious learners. Furthering your education, attending key "gravitas" conferences, or taking a one-off course, are all opportunities not just for you, but for your agency. Most firms have pretty healthy professional development budgets. Make sure to get your slice.
Often, you can take a break. Once you’ve put in your time and proven yourself, most good firms will allow those who need time off to take it. Whether its paid or unpaid leave, firms would rather offer their best people a rest and hang on to them, than lose a great person forever. Leaves must be managed carefully, but they can be done.
There are so many ways to customize your career at the right shop because good agencies acknowledge it’s all about the people. But customizing a career isn’t just the agency’s responsibility.
It’s important to think about what you really want from your agency experience and be proactive about managing your career. If you are going to approach your boss make sure you do it with a well thought out proposal that not only outlines the opportunity for you, but the payback for the firm and its clients.
Creating a proposal that benefits you, your firm and its clients will always get you to the top of the pile
Jen Prosek is the CEO & founder of Prosek Partners.