Three surprising contrasts you can enjoy after leaping from in-house to agency

Laura By Laura

I moved to Spark from an in-house role. Agency to in-house is generally a more well-trodden career path, so what is it like to move in the other direction? To many, it may seem a daunting prospect, with totally different ways of working and multiple account teams to familiarise yourself with. However, having made the move, I can confirm it’s not as scary as it seems.

I was happy working as part of a small, tight-knit marketing and comms team for a UK scientific membership charity. Work included establishing company messaging, being part of a major anniversary campaign and building some amazing relationships with media. But small teams can mean less opportunity for progression, and after four years of wearing a lot of different hats and learning all I could from my colleagues, I was ready for a change and a chance to stretch myself.

Looking back on my first month at Spark, I can remember feeling completely overwhelmed at how different everything was – there were so many terms that I was unfamiliar with, and I was moving away from a model of having just one in-house strategy, to serving multiple clients with different deliverables.

I’ve been here for two years now and am fully settled – and coming up to my Spark-iversary, I’ve been thinking about the differences between agency and in-house life. Here are three big contrasts:

  • A shared goal - One unique aspect of working in an agency is that everyone you work with is doing broadly the same thing. There are lots more opportunities to share experiences, ideas and leads with people who can actually relate. In-house, you’re usually one of the only people talking to the media on a regular basis or writing content. Being surrounded by people who have already walked a mile in your shoes really does make it feel like you’re not alone, and someone will likely have useful advice if you’ve encountered a challenge.

  • Variety is the spice of life - Another thing that is completely different about agency life is the variety. At my old company, I was focused on just one topic, one set of messaging, and talking to the same journalists regularly. Agency life is way more varied, and working with different clients across different topics means you can switch things up and stay engaged.

  • Learning and development - Learning and development prospects are much more readily available at Spark, too. I’ve certainly noticed the difference in training opportunities compared with when I was working for a charity. Even outside of formal training plans, working with people who have been in the industry for 20 years or more really does mean that you have constant input and opportunities to develop and learn new skills. Ultimately, many of the skills I have from my in-house past stood me in good stead for working in an agency. In particular, I massively value the team aspect of agency life. It never ceases to amaze me how much more you can achieve when you’re part of a larger team working towards a shared goal. To anyone considering making a similar move, I highly recommend moving agency side!