What I Wasn’t Prepared for Working in Advertising

10.25.16 / Kojo Manu / Account Service

It’s naïve to think that college would prepare you for everything. I knew that by the time I started high school. Still after graduation, whether it be their first or fifth job, every college student comes to the realization that the classroom doesn’t teach it all. Professors and lecturers can tell you what terms like CPM mean or how to advertise to millennials. But, it’s completely different to actually be in the thick of it and see how everything in advertising comes together with your own eyes. I have only been working on the account service side at an agency for a short time, but I’ve learned four main things thus far.

  1. It’s weird to explain your account service job

When you meet new people, standard small talk usually includes: What do you do for a living? For most people, it’s an easy enough question: I’m a teacher; I teach high school algebra. I’m a doctor; I practice in family medicine.

But when you work in advertising, specifically account service, the initial question sprouts so many different questions.

  • Did you help create that Old Spice ad? Nope. That’s not one of my company’s clients and I don’t create ads.
  • So you’re good with Photoshop? No. I don’t handle or do any of the creative, so I don’t really work in Photoshop.
  • Is it just like the show Mad Men? That’s a fictional show set in the 50s and 60s and I’m only 24, so I wouldn’t really know.

Those are actual questions that adults of different ages have asked me when I tell them I work in advertising. And don’t get me wrong, I like that people take interest in my profession. It’s just that I wasn’t really prepared to not know how to handle a simple question like: What do you do for a living?

It’s taken me a little bit of getting used to, but I’ve settled on just saying I work on the client side at an ad agency. Does that stop people from asking me if my job is just like Mad Men? No.

  1. Working in account service, your position is fluid
  2. My parents always instilled in me that I should always try and be multifaceted. Even with that hammered into my head since a young age, I still wasn’t fully prepared for the wide array of jobs I do in account service.

    I monitor the Yelp page for a client; I traffic radio spots; I help schedule LED signage for another client; I proofread and test email blasts; I brainstorm ad campaigns, etc. And that can all be in one very short seeming day.

    The pleasant surprise I found when I started working in the account service side of advertising is that on any given day you can interact with or touch on every aspect of advertising, from creative to social media.

  3. Agency life is way different from any other workplace
  4. No teacher, book, or guest speaker ever illustrated how different working in an ad agency would be from other office jobs. I knew it wouldn’t be a bunch of people in suits sitting in cubicles looking miserable, but I was still surprised.

    I can’t think of many other professions where you could you spend part of a brainstorming session watching a video of some of your co-workers trying different types of hot sauces.

    When I tell my friends about something that happened at work, one of them asked: Do you work at a playground or an office? I’m happy to be working in an agency.

  5. It’s very surreal

It’s still very bizarre, in a good way, to turn on the radio, hear a spot, and think: I was there when that was recorded or seeing a billboard and knowing the person who wrote the slogan or designed the whole thing.

I think it’s great to be able to work in a field where you can see tangible results, rather than just numbers or stats.

I’m sure the glitz and glamour of having behind the scenes knowledge of ads you see will fade and dull, but for now it’s still pretty cool.

I’m not a person who enjoys surprises, yet I’m enjoying the little surprises that I’m finding working at MGH. Sure, learning all of this in college would have worked, but being able to come to work every day and not necessarily knowing what to expect is keeping me interested and allowing me to look forward to coming to work everyday.

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