One day you’re setting up your new e-mail at your new desk, and the next thing you know a year has flown by. As the saying goes, time sure does fly.
2019 was once again, a year. It was supposed to be a relaxing, boring one. Boy, was it anything but. It brought different challenges than 2018, but challenges nonetheless.
The exact date when I started in marketing is somewhat debatable, is it when I started my blog years ago? Is it when I started doing volunteer communications work? Is it when I started my co-op placement? For the sake of clarity and a more appealing title, we’re going to work with the date that I started working full-time in the marketing industry right after finishing my post-graduate degree.
Specific dates and technicalities aside, I’ve come a long way in the past 365 days. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned in my first year working full-time at a marketing agency.
1. Fasten Your Seatbelt, Agency Life is Fast Paced
Enjoy the quiet times while they last, because they never last for long. Agency life can be tough for a lot of people, but I personally love it. My life in an agency is easier than most given that most of my work doesn’t revolve around strict deadlines, but it doesn’t mean my job is any less busy.
One of the favourite parts about my job, and marketing agency life in general, is the wide variety of clients I get to work on. Big and small, new and old, a wide variety of industries and at various stages of their campaigns, local campaigns and across North America…it’s never a dull moment.
Sometimes I do miss being able to immerse myself in everything about one company while working client-side. But overall, I love the diversity, range of topics and challenges that agency life brings.
My personal and professional life before I entered marketing helped me form the time management and organizational skills that are key to succeeding in an agency. In the job itself, two things that help me stay on track are scheduling out my time for each client per month (it’s not always realistic to follow this plan but it definitely helps!) and listing out my priorities for the next day before I leave the office in the evening.
2. WordPress Was One of the Best Skills I Ever Taught Myself
I was asked the other day when I first started using WordPress…it’s probably been 6 or 7 years now? I taught myself HTML about a decade before that as well. Now, I use it every single day.
I had the chance to go back to the college where I did my post-graduate program to talk to current students on two separate occasions this year. On both occasions I encouraged them to learn some basic web skills, specifically WordPress since it’s so widely used. I’m not sure I’d be where I am now without my largely self-taught web skills.
3. Never Stop Learning
Digital marketing is a fast-changing landscape, especially the search marketing world I specialize in. I may have walked across the convocation stage, but that was only the beginning.
It’s so important to stay up with marketing industry news and developments. The last thing you need is to fall behind on an algorithm update or not know about a new feature on one of your platforms and fall behind your competitors as a result.
4. You’ll Doubt Yourself
Did I choose the right career path? Should I have specialized so soon? Is this the right strategy? Is this the right working environment for me? Am I targeting the right keywords? Should the budget be higher? Should the budget be lower? Is this the right way to pitch this? Is my head still attached?
It’s okay. You’re doing great. You wouldn’t be where you are if people didn’t trust you and believe in you. Keep going. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance, but keep kicking ass, because trust me, you are!
5. The Coursework You Never Thought You’d Use? Oh, You’ll Use It.
That lecture about the history of the internet and how the internet, domains and website hosting work? Mindblowing at the time, now I use it on a weekly basis.
That course where we learned how to build a database? Well, guess who’s building a database?
Pay attention, because sometimes the most surprising skills and bits of knowledge are the ones that can really come in handy in a moment of need.
6. Find What Works Best for You
This will come with time, and you’ll have to work within the restraints of your environment which can be a challenge. Little things can make a world of difference, but figuring out what you need to be productive and produce your best work is important.
Noise can be a challenge for me in the office, so headphones have become important. I don’t like wearing them, but the reality is that they’re key to me being able to focus. I’ve also become more in tune with the days when I need to remove myself from the main office space to get work done, especially for large chunks of writing, and what days/moods I can tolerate (or even enjoy!) the background noise.
This will surprise a lot of people, but managing my energy can be a challenge. I may come across as being quiet, but sitting still can be a difficult at times! On these days, I break out the balance cushion (which doubles as a great core workout), listen to music to help channel my energy, or work in the other room and sit in one of the chairs where I can make it bounce up and down without disturbing anybody else.
Writing out my list of priorities for the next day has also become important. Some days it’s not necessary, but as my workload increased and I took on more responsibility just a few months after starting, this became more important. Listing out my priorities the day before helps make sure I don’t let anything slip and means I’m not planning out my day first thing in the morning while I’m still waking up!
7. This is Only the Beginning
There are still times where I’m just in awe at everything that’s happened since I made the decision to pursue marketing professionally. It was a lot of hard work, made much more difficult by family health challenges that emerged at the same time I went back to school, but boy was the hard work worth it because I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.
For as much as I’ve learned in year one, I know I still have so much to learn and so much ahead of me. I have confidence in what I’ve learned and what I’m capable of, but know to stay humble and never stop learning and reflecting.
It was hard to sum up everything I’ve learned this past year into just seven points, but for anybody who’s getting ready to jump into marketing full-time or currently navigating the early months and years of your career, this post is for you. I’m so grateful to be where I am, and if you’re not feeling that way yet, have confidence in your abilities and hang in there because I know you’ll find your marketing bliss soon too.
From professors and co-workers to clients and of course, my family, it took a village to get me to where I am today. Here’s to year two, and beyond!
Have any questions about my experiences? Did you relate to this post? Leave a comment or tweet at me and let me know what you think!