Lessons From My Desk: One Year Working at an Agency
There are many things in my life for which I am grateful, and my time at Four Winds Creative is high on that list. This month marks my one year anniversary of working at a creative agency right after college. I’ve had many great opportunities here; I feel very lucky to have had Char, Todd, and Keith impart some of their wisdom on me. So what has my first year in the working world taught me?
Say “Yes” and Follow Through
This is what ultimately landed me this sweet gig, and what I continue to observe as a core trait amongst the Co-Founders. The important part of this, though, is the follow through. Flakiness might fly with your friend group, but it can seriously hurt your career. Think about whether or not you can commit to something, and if you think you can, go for it. Say “yes” even if it gives you butterflies. A little self-doubt is normal, but don’t let it prevent you from trying. I can’t tell you how many times an usual project has come through the door, followed by a healthy mix of questions and laughter, then finally a plan to accomplish it. Those are the projects we love doing at Four Winds Creative, because overcoming a new challenge means the chance to grow and adapt our skills. Opportunities will present themselves more and more when you start saying “yes” and following through. It’s like magic.
People are Just People
My job at this creative agency has taken me to offices, conferences, and even an international science fair. Being part of a video crew is kind of like having an invisibility cloak in Dumbledore’s office; you get to see important people be candid and make mistakes. It humanizes the massive and distant world of Corporate America. After countless interviews and coffee runs, I can tell you that behind every huge corporation is just ordinary, hardworking people. It was a huge paradigm shift for me to realize that networking doesn’t have to be a greedy, inauthentic exchange. The whole idea is about working together to achieve more than you could alone. After interviewing a wide variety of people, I must say I’m often most inspired by the employees on the ground floor. The people who come in each day with a passion and commitment to what they do. Anyone can make a big impact, and not all impactful people are CEOs.
Freelancing is Achievable
After graduating with a film degree, the life of a freelancer seems so lucrative and unattainable. But after hiring freelancer after freelancer and meeting so many of them at networking events, I’ve learned that it’s definitely doable. There are challenges, of course, as are with any career choice. The first meetup I went to was all about invoicing and day rates, things I hadn’t yet considered. But what’s most imperative is being passionate about what you do, getting connected with people who need your service more than once, and doing a really good job. Also, see number 1.
Agencies are Multiple People Freelancing Together
The cool thing about agencies is that they’re like a synchronized unit of freelancers combining their creative power to tackle projects bigger than any one person could do on their own. The three founder personalities at FWC complement each other perfectly. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, which forms a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts. But what’s interesting to me is that the agency still embodies the pros and cons of freelancing: freedom to choose your projects and clients, while at the same time never having a guaranteed job around the corner. Agencies will also work with their competition sometimes, not unlike individual freelancers. It puts you in a very business-minded and forward-thinking environment.
Who You Work With is Important
If you work a standard full time job, you spend about 35% of your waking hours at work. That’s significant. And who you interact with during those 40 hours a week will make a huge impact on how you work. I’ve been so lucky to have found Four Winds Creative out of college. Not only have the founders taught me important lessons through leading by example, they’ve also set aside time to train Eva and I. My favorite example of this was our fake client meetings: Char and Todd would get into character so Eva and I could practice the art of the pitch. They somehow manage to make each project a fun challenge, always thinking creatively to provide the best content possible. With my diploma hot off the press, I had a lot to learn about office etiquette and workflow. But the FWC Founders have been both patient and encouraging, giving me opportunities to try new things at every turn. And for that, my gratitude is difficult to put into words.
It is bittersweet to write this because, as I follow my own advice, I have said “yes” to a job in Costa Rica where I will play a small part in getting teenagers to discover and share their service around the world. I never could’ve imagined my life taking these twists and turns, but I’m so grateful for it all. As you can probably tell from the above, my exit is not for lack of job satisfaction, but for that slow-burning and consistent desire to experience a new corner of the Earth.