This article originally appeared on MediaPost.
We’ve all heard the knocks about working at an agency: low pay, long hours, and that it can be more of a guild than a profession. But I think that everyone in the industry would be well served by working at a media agency for some period of time. Here’s why:
It’s a ring-side seat. At an agency you’ll have a ring-side seat to the greatest change taking place in advertising since the 1960s. You’ll see how all media advertising is becoming digital, interactive and increasingly automated. You will also be present for the start of the next great age of advertising, where brand content, not just the message or the medium, is the focus.
It’s an education. At an agency you will sit at the intersection of a business where every year a half trillion dollars needs to find a home. There is simply no better place to learn so much about media, so quickly. You’ll learn the difference between things like a CTR and a GRP, upfronts and scatter, banners and rich media, and natural and paid search.
You’ll also have direct access to clients and learn how the marketing budget process works. The foundation this creates will carry you throughout your entire career.
It’s fun. When I first arrived at a media agency in New York, I just assumed all the drinks were free thanks to the industry’s ever-present sales reps. Games at Yankee Stadium, concerts at Madison Square Garden and dinners in the city were part of the job, or at least that’s what I would tell my family.
You may also get to travel the world, attend conferences and generally live well beyond your salary.
It builds a powerful network. Beyond all of the free beer and nights out, what makes a media agency really special is the people you meet. Much of the staff at an agency is younger, with diverse backgrounds. There is an exuberance and exchange of ideas here that you often don’t find at more traditional companies.
The dozens of talented people I worked with at MEC are now dispersed across the industry. Some are at publishers like Hearst and ESPN, while others have moved on to agencies like Mediavest and Razorfish.
The benefit of having a powerful network like this cannot be underestimated. When people ask me how we were able build and sell Pictela in just over two years I tell them it was largely because of this network. Relationships — not just scale — matter in this industry, especially in New York.
Since my time at a media agency was the most educational and fun period of my career, I would encourage everyone to consider a similar choice.
What do you think? Would you work for a media agency?