Expectations of Agency Life vs. The Cold Hard Truth

March 9, 2023

Pat yourself on the back. Somehow, you have gotten through school alive, and now you are walking into your first day of agency life. To be fair, you have been warned about the long days, the fast pace, and the multiple clients you need to appease each day. However, being the agency professional I am (LOL 9 months in), I have picked up a few things that have shown me exactly what the truth is behind this wild agency life ride.

Expectation #1: You will remember every framework, every Harvard Business Review, and every acronym you have diligently studied over the past couple of years.

The cold hard truth: Google is going to be your best friend. Don't get me wrong, I learned a lot from my education, but come on, Google is so good.

Expectation #2: Agency life is a busy, never-ending 12 hours a day work week.

The cold hard truth: Everyday is not a 12-hour day. Yes, sometimes it is. Somedays, you are booked to the max with meetings and deadlines. Somedays, you will start your day thinking you have nothing to do, but then you blink, and it's 5 PM and you have completed a social strategy, posted three posts, community-managed an entire social account, done a quick twirl, and attended four brainstorming sessions. BUT, some days are quiet, VERY QUIET. For legal reasons, I use this time to brush up on my career development, do research, make a sale with a new client, and pick up ham (IYKYK). Agency life really is a ride. Sometimes it’s a slow up the hill and sometimes it’s a swift *zing* down. At least I know, and can share with you, that not everyday is 12-hours long. 

Expectation #3: Because you work in social, you are the social media guru

The cold hard truth: Nice try, but unfortunately, social media is shifting basically every two days. Meta seems to have a team solely dedicated to keeping things freaky on social, and don’t even get me started on Twitter. Social media keeps you on your toes every single day. You can’t be the guru because a tactic that may have soared your engagements through the roof yesterday may be an absolute miss next week. This may feel daunting when you’re responsible for so much online, but I like this about social; how we show up on social is ever-evolving, and it forces you to think outside the box every day.

Expectation #4: The clients you are not interested in will be the WORST

The cold hard truth: In my experience, it has been the complete opposite. I have worked with various clients and therefore have a weirdly in-depth understanding of brands I never thought I’d even scratch the surface on understanding like lottery, groceries and agriculture equipment. Getting onboarded onto these clients may initially be intimidating; you may ask, "how the hell am I going to understand this product/service and make it appealing to an audience so different from myself?" However, what I have learnt is that the clients that are so entirely outside your comfort zone allow you to look outside your personal bias to create something brilliant.

Expectation #5: Agency life is NOT a cult

The cold hard truth: It is my friend, it really is. So quickly, you will fall into the world of agency life and find yourself telling your partner that you are "aligned" with the placement of that lamp or that having rice bowls for dinner is a "great shout." It turns out you will be spending a lot of time with these people, probably more than your friends, family and partners. So, when you realize you are talking like everyone else in this bizarre universe, don't push it away; join the club.

Ultimately, starting your first job in a marketing agency is intimidating, imposter syndrome will be with you for many moments, and you may feel like you are spinning without knowing where to plant your feet. Trust that you know what you bring to the table, we say here at AntiSocial that we aren't looking for a culture “fit” but a culture "add." Be yourself, be bold, and have some fun.