When studying for an advertising degree you can’t escape the pull of the big cities. At my university in particular, before you even got your offer letter; they had your eyes sparkling with tales of students taking placements in New York, London, Milan. Working for the big guys in the advertising world, living a life filled with perfectly executed briefs and champagne.
However when my time came to look for a placement, the idea of working in a large agency in London got wiped from my list pretty quickly. Not being from London meant I wasn’t prepared to – and physically couldn’t – work for free. I found that a lot of agencies in London expect you to work very long hours for free, or on expenses only. This wasn’t always the case, however many students will readily work for next to nothing and I couldn’t compete with this. So I looked a little closer to home.
Which brings me to my placement at The Wonderland! I worked for 11 months at The Wonderland as a Marketing Executive, after my second year of uni. The very same job I was offered – and have happily taken back up – as soon as I finished my degree.
Here are a few reasons why I think that working in a small agency is the best thing you can do…
- You don’t just make tea, you learn the ropes
There’s a serious misunderstanding within certain industries that interns are meant for making tea, filing, and running social media. Interns are people who need to learn, and there’s only so many times you can learn to make a perfect cup of tea.
Now I have to say I did all of those things whilst on my placement, but so did other people in the business. I got well and truly stuck in to all kinds of projects whilst working as an intern, as my role was a valued one. There is zero point in a small business hiring an intern if they are not going to be valuable to them, and with this in mind the more I showed I could handle things, the more work I got given, and the more I learnt.
- You have a varied role
My role as an intern at The Wonderland was extremely varied. One day I was photographing products for a website, the next day I was writing copy for emails, then giving social media workshops, making masks, right through to helping with new business pitches. (I even found myself wearing some fancy vests when visiting a printers, as seen with Lynsey below!)
The good thing about working in a small agency as an intern is that you don’t necessarily have any specialism yet. You’re learning, and you want to learn it ALL. Or at least I did. I could ask to work or help out on certain projects alongside the ones that I had to do as part of my job role, and this meant I could see all areas of the agency, and decide what I liked the best.
- You have the directors on hand for advice
Working in the same room as the directors of the business was extremely valuable for me. There was no holds barred, no scary offices that I had to knock to enter, and although I was often nervous about asking for advice – I always got honest answers to any questions asked. A lot of this is down to the culture at The Wonderland, however the nature of small businesses means that the hierarchy is often more broken down due to the smaller amount of people within the company.
- You get to see all aspects of the business
From working in a small business I have not only learnt how to do my job, but I have experienced first-hand what it’s like to run a business. From tax and raising POs right through to understanding the importance of cash flow. It’s a valuable lesson that you might not learn from a big corporation as it’s probably locked down in the finance department somewhere.
- You get paid!
Now I can’t speak for all small agencies, and I didn’t get paid an awful lot – but it was better than nothing. Getting paid even a small wage means that you feel you are valued for what you do, and this in turn makes you work harder. Plus having some money in your pocket always puts a smile on your face.
(Mask making… all in a day’s work)
I could go on to list many more reasons – however all in all I believe my experience really was invaluable, and completely different to the one I would have had if I had worked in a larger business.
People are suited to different things, however I think it’s important for students to open their eyes to the experiences gained from working in small agencies. Everyone has to start somewhere, and even if your dream is to work for a top London agency, the experience you could get from a boutique agency might just be what you need to get you there.
Written by Emmy