When you first enter the workforce after graduation, it’s difficult to know what type of work environment will best serve your working style and cultivate professional growth towards achieving your career goals. You might not even know what your career goals are, let alone how to pursue them.
Will you thrive in a corporate environment, or are you better suited for agency life?
Or perhaps you’d be better off doing contract work given your entrepreneurial aspirations?
Where do you want to be in 5 years? Management? Own your own business? Leading your own projects?
These self-reflection questions are important to finding a position that you enjoy and will be an intentional step in your career path. But how do you answer these questions if you don’t know where you want your path to lead? The absolute best way to explore different work environments is to intern at a variety of places within your field. To help you get started, here’s a brief overview of the similarities and differences between agency, corporate, and contract work.
An agency is typically business-to-business (known as B2B) and is not directly customer facing. Agencies are small with anywhere from 25 to a couple hundred employees and are often privately-owned by a family or a small group of investors. Despite their size, they are full service and require a wide variety of positions - human resources, accounting, graphic design, information technology, communications, sales, etc. Agencies often have many different clients and have designated teams that serve each client.
Advertising and marketing agencies are common types of agencies. They don’t serve customers directly, but are hired by other businesses to manage and create their advertising and marketing needs. For example, a large automotive manufacturing company (corporate) will hire an agency to manage all of its advertisements, a different agency to create it’s training for employees, and yet another agency to handle all employee travel.
The corporate world is maybe a little more familiar, as it’s often portrayed in movies and TV shows like “The Office.” Ultimately, a corporation is a large group that can legally act as a single entity. They typically have one goal - to sell its good or service. Gas and electric companies, TV broadcasting networks, and regional and national retail stores are just a few examples of corporations. Governments are structured similarly to corporations, although their processes, income stream, and legal rights are much different.
As mentioned in the agency section, corporations hire agencies to conduct work they feel are “experts’ in an area. Let’s use the automotive manufacturer example again. The goal for that company is to sell cars. They will hire a marketing agency to develop their marketing campaigns because the agency is the expert in marketing, not the automotive company. The marketing agency will produce better marketing materials for the corporate team than they could ever do themselves. It’s just not their expertise.
Contract work can be found in both agency and corporate environments, but also in work-from-home situations. If you are looking to work part-time or in a temporary position while you determine the best place for you, contract work is a great option.
The situation will be different at every company, and there are pros and cons with each arrangement.
The pros: it’s flexible yet steady income as long as you are in contract. It builds your resume and can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Many contract positions are contract-to-hire, which means if they like you and you do great work, they will extend a full-time offer.
The cons: you may not be eligible to draw benefits or have taxes withheld. And once your contract is done, you’ll be on the job hunt again.
Need help determining where you fit best? We would love to partner with you to craft a tailored career plan that maximizes your potential. Contact us today to set up a consultation!