There is a lot of talk about which agencies people want to work for. The heralded dawn of utopian freelancery has not yet broken and most people at school are still looking to start in an agency of some description. Much thought is being put into to the type of work a shop produces, the size of the place, its location and its ethos amongst other things. All very worthwhile considerations.
Until this week, I had been thinking along the same lines as most. Asking myself where I want to work. No more, however. I have decided, for a number of reasons, that it is for whom I work that is most important. Which person, not which organisation.
I had the pleasure to interview Dave Trott in early January. I learnt a lot from him. Of particular relevance was his point about mentors. He said to look at all the big names from the golden decade of advertising; behind each one there was another great from the industry. Their mentor from whom they had learned their trade.
I offered a few names from the current crop and he was able to list the people who taught them, in turn. We have fantastic mentors at the school but this conversation with Dave got me thinking about who my mentor may be once I leave. Suddenly, that became a big consideration.
Someone to work for. Someone to learn from through observation and experience. A consistent source of trusted feedback.
Reflecting on this, I also realised that if I really respect, value and get on with the person for whom I work then my motivation will be ever greater. I would be far more determined to please, and not let down, a mentor figure. And I would know that when I went the extra mile it would be noticed and appreciated. Working directly for, and with, someone seems more rewarding than working for something.
So what does this mean, practically? Does it mean a small agency? Not necessarily. We were lucky enough to spend a day at Havas in November. The creative department their seem to have a fantastic relationship with their creative director Elliot, a paternal figure who they trust and want to do well for.
What it means is looking high and low for the people producing the work I want to make. Then going and meeting the person behind the work as many times as possible to really get a handle on them as a person and a professional.
Once I find my mentor, the real work starts. Who are they, what do they like, what sort of work do they like, what do they want to see from me, what do they look for in an idea, what’s their executional style and so on.
Up until this realisation I had had no idea where I wanted to work nor what I was looking for. The above is the first step in that direction.
At east I know what I’m looking for, if not (yet) what it looks like.