Big or Small Agency? Where Should Graduates Go?

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NOELLE WEAVER: Bart Cleveland's last entry on speaking with a young art director got me thinking about all of the new talent that’s about to enter our doors.

It’s officially internship and graduation season and I’ve been on the phone constantly these past few weeks doing informational interviews and answering questions from a group of people preparing to take a pretty big step in their lives.

The number one question they ask me is, ‘What’s the difference between a big agency and a small agency? Followed by, ‘And which one should I work at?’

And here’s the advice I give them.

If you have the opportunity, you need to work at both. The important thing to realize is that each will give you a different type of experience, both of which will be truly valuable in your career.

Big agencies are good foundation teachers. They show you process and how to approach strategy. You learn the roles of each agency discipline and the inherent traditional structure that is, and always has been, what advertising is about. In short, they’re good for discipline.

Small agencies require you to be much more nimble and entrepreneurial in nature. Sure you’re playing more roles and get to do more, but that also means that you’re responsible for more. Small agencies are good for creative thinking and problem solving skills because often times you do not have the resources at your fingertips the way you do at a big agency.

The important thing is -- no matter what job you decided to take -- [and I believe this applies no matter who

you are] that you find you’re not the smartest person in the room and you’re still learning something valuable that you can take with you to the ‘next big thing’ in your career.
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