Thursday, January 24, 2008

Agency work vs entrepreneur

I had lunch this week with a friend who has a very senior role at a PR agency. We discussed my career exploration a lot, and she had some interesting things to say.

First, her agency seems to be populated primarily with 20- and 30-somethings. There are a few people under 45 in senior roles, but no one in their 50s. We discussed whether there is a role for someone in their latter two working decades at an agency like hers, and her best answer is "I don't know.", which is interesting given she's nearly 45. In her experience, agencies can have regular relationships with senior consultants in their 50s and 60s, but because of the economics, only uses contractors like there sparingly, preferring to hire someone in-house if there's enough work for a full-time staffer. And these people tend to have narrow specialties, like media trainer or speech writer.

So this lunch didn't answer any questions, but it was still helpful to understand. And the best part of it was she flattered me. I asked for her advice on what it would take for an agency to hire me, if I later chose to trade the freedom of my self-employment for the security of an agency salary. She seemed to think that my career lacked nothing in that regard, and that if I wanted an agency job I could probably find one now. She even hinted at salary figures for someone at my level, as a senior manager, and I gotta say they were much higher than I would have expected.

The down side to her description of agency work, besides the long hours in a downtown office, is that the constant need to find new business wouldn't go away if I had an agency job. She told me that every employee beyond the very junior is expected to bring in new business. In other words, trolling for work wouldn't go away, but perhaps the intense pressure I feel as an entrepreneur might lessen.

Things to think about...

1 comment:

Coryan said...

Isn't it odd how age plays such a role in employment, contracting and such? You'd think being 40 meant you've got one foot in the grave and could go at any time. I've so much more to offer in my 40s than I ever did in my 20s or 30s.

Good luck with the career changes!