By Ignacio Arbex - 8th April 2016
Like my fellow Spaniards travelling to India five hundred years ago, I too arrived on the wrong shore. Or at least, not the one I initially aimed for.
Throughout university, I harboured fantasies of starting my career at a monolithic, global agency where my clients would include Coca-Cola, Apple and Google. I’d learn from the high flying executives around me and be inspired by their years of service.
As it happened, the wind took me to new horizons. To Pulse, a 25-person, two year old agency operating in the ever-expanding tech world.
As I write this post I can assure you, as I’m sure Columbus would’ve, that unexpected journeys can yield extraordinary results. After one month working at Pulse, my views regarding the best place to start your career have changed dramatically.
Here are five reasons why:
During my previous experience doing internships at big agencies, I quickly realised that, to most people, you are no more than that, an intern. Most days involve handling mundane tasks with no real repercussion on the agency.
In a smaller or younger agency, you are thrown in at the deep end very quickly and will constantly be learning on the go. Every day is different and you’ll be given as much responsibility as you can handle. Furthermore, you have responsibilities that extend beyond your role and you have to wear multiple hats. Ultimately, you learn more, faster.
This might seem irrelevant but trust me it is not. In a small agency you’ll know everyone’s name in a couple of days, and feel at home within a week. I’ve worked at bigger agencies where people working on the same project didn’t know each other and showed no interest in doing so either.
At young agencies, you feel that everyone is rowing in the same direction as opposed to fulfilling their personal ambitions. You also work much closer to management and have the invaluable opportunity of learning directly from the big boys.
Fellow grads – we’ve all been dumbstruck after reading job descriptions for entry level roles asking for 2-3 years’ experience. I managed to rack up nine months’ experience working internships during the summer, but not everyone has the chance to do this so you might be graduating with very little experience under your belt. Don’t panic.
At smaller agencies, you are judged much more by your personality and ambition rather than your curriculum. What I’ve learned is that if you have the right attitude there is nothing to stop you from succeeding.
If you start your career at a big agency, there is a strong chance it’ll be through an internship or grad scheme. While some agencies do pay their interns minimum wage, many will only cover expenses and others not even that.
Starting in a grad role at Pulse, I’ve felt far more appreciated from day one. The hierarchy is flatter and my progression path is clearly laid out.
Pulse isn’t “small” exactly, boasting big name clients like Dropbox, VMware and Mozilla. But two years ago, you could count the employees and clients on one hand and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to apply for a role here. Now that I am here, I’m learning from a team who are motivated, social and personally invested in the company.
Being small means you are growing. And a growing agency, it turns out, is a great place to start a career in media.