It’s national careers week this week and to celebrate we wanted to highlight the wide range of career possibilities within creative agencies. The design and development side of things is widely publicised but often people don’t realise just how many other job roles there are. So even if you’re not destined to be a creative or a developer it doesn’t mean you can’t play an equally important part in agency life!Working in an agency was always something I aspired to do as soon as I knew they existed. Even though I knew I wanted to be part of agency life, I didn’t have much awareness of the wide range of career opportunities available.
When most people think of working within an agency they think of the more “vocational” roles, design, web development etc. which are a hugely important part of what we do. However, there are also a wide variety of agency roles outside of these areas and they aren’t always well publicised, particularly to students/pupils.
Let’s take a look at some of those roles and what it might take to get one!
It might not surprise you to learn that the Client Services team are client facing members of the agency. You would likely start as an Account Executive and can work your way up to Account Director and beyond.
If you work in the Client Services team you will likely be the main point of contact for the client. It’s your job to manage the project, make sure the delivery team has an accurate brief and that you fully understand the needs of the client.
As part of the client services team you pretty much get to work with everyone in the agency: creatives, planners, developers. You’ll likely be part of a project from the inception to delivery, and you’ll get the opportunity to see the creative process and project delivery in its entirety.
Client Services is where I started off my agency life. It’s busy, there’ll probably be some late nights, but it can be great fun and very rewarding. If you’re an organised, people person this could be the career path for you!
Qualifications wise, I know people in the client services team with a wide variety of backgrounds, from journalism and languages to marketing and design. There is no one definitive route into account handling. Get experience early on, have passion for what you are doing and be organised!
The business development team are responsible for bringing new work to the agency. They attend events, write proposals and tenders and ensure there is a pipeline of work coming into the studio.
Often people who work in business development have a background in client services as the skills for these two roles often overlap: you need to be organised, great with people and focused on new opportunities and growing the business. It’s helpful to have a working knowledge of everything the agency can provide a client and often you get the broadest exposure working in a client services role.
Once a piece of work has been won, it’s then handed to the client services team to deliver. If you are people orientated, confident, commercially aware and love searching out new ideas and opportunities then this could be the place for you!
Agencies often have in house marketing teams who work on a mix of agency promotion as well as contributing to marketing projects for clients. If you’re a marketing star there are often opportunities in agencies as well as client side.
Qualifications wise you are likely to have studied marketing or business, but people come into marketing from all sorts of backgrounds. One of my first jobs was a digital marketing executive and I studied Product Design at University!
Strategy and Planning
The strategic and planning teams are the big picture people and concentrate on the who, the what and the why. It’s imperative that when you are working on a project, creating a new brand for example, that you understand what the clients needs are but more importantly what the needs of their customers are.
Planners should be involved in a project throughout. They may suggest a initial workshops, which could be used to work through company values, assess and define their audience and more.
There are many routes into planning. Sometimes planners may start off in other areas of the business and move into planning once their strategic thinking shines through. If you are a big picture sort of person who is always thinking about the who, the what, and the why, and you love research and discovery, then this could be the career path for you.
User Experience is another area which doesn’t often have a huge amount of awareness, but is increasingly important, especially online. User Experience designers will usually work within the digital team, working on websites and apps. It is the role of the UX designer to ensure that the interactions we have with a product are positive and intuitive. They will look at how customers need to to access information and make sure these journeys are as smooth and efficient as possible. They will also look at accessibility and terminology used (in navigations for example), ensuring that it meets best practice guidelines.
If you think about websites or apps you have used in the past, I bet you can remember a time where you’ve found it difficult to find information or purchase something? It’s a UX designer’s job to ensure that those experiences are seamless, as you’ll always remember having a bad one!
Operations, Finance and HR
We’ve touched on lots of opportunities within the more client focussed areas of the business but there are also plenty of roles within the operations and admin focussed areas that you can also get involved with. Agencies need finance teams, accountants, human, resources staff, operations teams like most other organisations.
The best way to find out what you are suited for is to get experience. Lots of agencies offer placements, work experience and internships across multiple functions. They will usually say on their careers pages what opportunities are available but if in doubt don’t be afraid to be proactive and drop them an email to ask!