Sarah Weeden@srweeden • I write an advice column for 20-Somethings from a 20-Something. I don't know what I'll do when I turn 30.
(Editor’s Note: Sarah is our resident 20-something expert. If you are in your 20s and want to get a little peer advice, send questions our way.)
Well, here goes nothing. My first response to questions sent to me by my fellow 20-somethings.
“Dear Sarah, I’m a writer and just started out at a small agency. I feel as though I have already outgrown the position and want to get to a big agency. How the hell do I play this one?” – Greta from Bakersfield
There are a couple of battles I see playing out here:
Since the former is highly subjective, I’m going to tackle the second battle.
It seems to me that you’re attributing your feeling of over-qualification to the fact that you’re at a small agency. Now, I don’t know your whole agency dynamic, but coming from a small agency myself (and formerly working at a large agency), I want you to take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Yes, this is a pros and cons situation that you thought you left in high school when you were deciding between Johnny, the hot jock and Sam, the nerdy computer guy.
Yes, I just used the term “jock.”
Yes, this is 1997.
Rather than automatically assuming that you’d feel more challenged at a big agency, I urge you to step back and take a holistic look at what you want from your job. Is it something that lies within agency population, or is it simply something that lies within the agency’s personality?
Because you feel underutilized at your current agency does not necessarily mean that you would feel that way about any small agency. Nor does it mean that you wouldn’t find that fulfillment at a large agency. Every agency has a different dynamic despite, or sometimes in spite, of its size.
Instead of thinking big vs. little, think about what exactly you want from your current position. There’s a certain amount of truth to having to prove yourself when you’re new to the business. There’s also truth to being open with your superiors about where you see yourself going in your career. So, instead of jumping to the idea that bigger is better, think about what it is about big that makes it seem better.
Is it the fact that you have larger clients? Or more money to put toward creative ideas? Or is it just that your smaller agency isn’t challenging you the way you wish it would?
No matter the comparison, I don’t really think this is a battle between small vs. large agency. Rather, I think it’s an internal battle between what you know you can do and what you’re being asked to do. In that case, I would suggest the following:
Until then — get money, get paid. And let me know if you have anything to spare to help pay my student loans.