Finding Your Place in the Industry: Agency vs. In-house

Finding a job is difficult and comes with its own unique stressors for any major. Juggling the factors of salaries, work environments, location, and career routes is a consistent pressure in any young adults’ life. But sometimes, it seems like it’s a little easier for nursing majors who know they will be nurses, accounting majors who know they will be accountants or social work majors who know they will be social workers.

That’s both the beauty and drawback of our field. Many of us probably chose communications (or another related field) because of the endless career possibilities. Deciding between the hundreds of career paths can get overwhelming.

Every graduating college senior looking to go into the communications field, whether that be marketing, advertising, public relations, or any other niche, must ask themselves the same first question when deciding a career path: agency vs. in-house. Both routes come with their own unique opportunities.

Work Environment

Careers in agencies and in-house communications have extremely different work environments. Depending on your personality and preferences, you might prefer one over the other, regardless of other factors.

If you’re looking for a young, fun, and innovative work culture, consider agency life. Most agencies are full of young, fresh newly graduated people, leading agency employees to be very likeminded. Agencies do tend to have more of a social aspect, as postgraduates are longing for a friend group similar to what they had in college. Agencies often incorporate social events into their work lives to form strong connections between colleagues. Most people describe agency life as fast-paced, as you will often work with several different clients and work on several different projects within your time at that agency.

If you’re looking for a professional, corporate culture, then maybe consider in-house communication departments. Most businesses work on a 9 to 5 schedule and that doesn’t change with communications employees. Furthermore, corporations include several different careers, personalities, and expertise that all have influence over each other, so you will gain exposure to several types of people. Corporate environments also involve constant communication with other departments, offering the opportunity of a faster pace of collaboration and workflow.

1. Future Plans

Depending on what you want your future career path to look like, one option may be better than another. Whether you want to work in an agency, in-house, or a mix of both throughout your career, there are countless ways to develop and move up the ladder.

Working for corporations provides opportunities to switch departments and try many different jobs. If you want to network in the corporate world, whether you stay with the same company or move, there is always room to improve. Agency work offers several opportunities to travel, which is appealing to many postgraduates. Many people begin working in agencies when they’re young and fresh out of college, then move to the client-side when they want to settle down. No matter your path, both agency life and in-house life look great to future employers and provide substantial room for growth.

2. Salary

The general rule of thumb is that in-house communications careers pay more. However, this is not 100% true, and it’s crucial not to enter the job search thinking this. Salary is a very important factor when debating any job, but you can’t let it be the primary deciding factor or let it get in the way of your happiness or what you want to do.

The client-side offers a strong, stable income, but many argue that it’s compensation for little growth. Corporations are credited for offering more than their agency counterparts, but it’s important to weigh the unique pros and cons of each depending on your preferences, the factors mentioned in this post, and those not mentioned. Agencies also compensate for their lower salaries with several training, social, and personal benefits.

Any strategic communications career is great no matter where you are. I mean hey, that’s why we went into this field in the first place. It’s fun, creative, innovative, meaningful, and crucial to the success of any business. Ultimately when debating which career path you should choose, it boils down to what would make you the happiest and where you see yourself thriving the most.

Jane Searcy is a junior at Texas Christian University majoring in Strategic Communications and minoring in General Business and Digital Culture and Data Analytics. Jane is the social media manager for Pink Team in Roxo. She plans to pursue a career in advertising or marketing when she graduates in spring of 2023. Jane advocates for an active lifestyle as she loves going on walks, runs, and working out. However, she prides herself in having seen “New Girl” 5 times through

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