The secret about agency work (International Women’s Day edition)

PR and marketing agencies are great places to learn a lot about your craft – quickly. The work can be intense. If you’re serious about client service (and we are), your goal is to make every client feel like your favorite client – and your only client. If they have an emergency, it’s your emergency. And if they have a brainstorm they want to turn into some meaty thought leadership, that kind of becomes your emergency, too, because as anyone who has ever written anything knows, you can’t always schedule inspiration for, say, next Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET. You have to respect it and capture it when it comes. 

This is one reason why so many mid-career PR and marketing folks cry “uncle” at some point, and move to internal roles. Once they get on the inside, they think, they’ll have only one “client” to serve. And yet, here I am, many years into my career, feeling A-OK when people look at me and think, “lifer.” The kind of work I’ve been able to do at a women-led, women-empowering agency is not the stuff that comes along just anytime or anywhere.  

“I want to help build out a content arm of the business,” I said, and we have.

“I want to see us implement a paid parental leave policy,” I said, and we did.

“I want to learn more about socially responsible leadership,” I said, and I am.

In the meantime, working for an agency that heavily prioritizes bringing on the right clients has made all the difference in not just the kind of work I get to do, but also how I view work, ambition, achievement and professional development.

We work with men and women – lots of women – who make ideas happen.

As International Women’s Day approaches, I think about what I have learned from all of these women – colleagues and clients and partners – who have taught me so much about the kind of career I want to build.

Below are nine of those lessons, and links to where they came from.

  1. You can work remotely and still do great work (and have fun doing it).
  2. Arguing is a good thing.
  3. Now is a great time for female entrepreneurship.
  4. Be vulnerable enough to make mistakes. (Then, learn from them.)
  5. Be a problem-solver, not a problem-creator.
  6. Get crystal clear about your definition of success.
  7. A little serendipity is a good thing – in tech and in career choices.
  8. Experience matters.
  9. Positivity is a choice

Teach me one more. Tweet me the best lesson you’ve learned from a female colleague or mentor @rebeccamjoyner for #InternationalWomensDay.