A view from the bottom
A view from Gemma Smith

A view from the bottom

Since leaving university, I'd professed a desire to work "in media", despite having no idea what it would entail.

The Times’ Top 100 list, I remember, said something about marketing/comms roles having some of the highest graduate salaries in the market, so that was my decision made.

Working in media isn’t as glamorous as I’d first envisaged, but it’s rarely dull. The daily routine usually involves me clutching my daybook, running in and out of meetings, "catch-ups", presentation run-throughs and status calls, while managing to fit some work in-between.

After just over a year in media planning, not a single one of my friends understand what it is that I do, and I can’t really blame them – I wasn’t even aware this industry existed until I landed my job at Havas!

I always knew there was a clowder of creative cats out there indulging in "blue-sky thinking", churning out beautiful ads – it just never occurred to me that there would be even more people planning the best environments for these ads to appear in.

I’m in client service, which seems to make the job description even tougher to understand. On my best days, I’m an all-knowing, all-singing, all-dancing strategist, tactician and overall media wizard single-handedly solving clients’ problems. On my worst days, I’m a slave to Excel and PowerPoint, chasing media owners and colleagues for long-awaited updates.

There are a few tools that I turn to regularly and I must say I have developed a love affair with one in particular. My mum says I’ve always been nosey, so imagine my delight at discovering Target Group Index – suddenly, the whole population is subject to my scrutiny.

Having spent 23 years floating through life admiring the scenery, it shocks no one more than myself that I have become a person who takes pleasure in writing to-do lists – and even more pleasure crossing things off said lists. We need to be furiously organised: my team are typically working on 20 different tasks with 15 different deadlines for seven different clients, so it goes with the territory.

Before embarking on a media career, the only well-ordered thing in my life was my wardrobe (colour-coded and categorised) but, in every other sense, I was positively scatty. Media really has been the making of me.

I once believed I was destined to lead a nocturnal existence as waking up in the morning was such a struggle. Nowadays, I find myself coming in early just to get a head start. As I write this, it is 8.40am on Wednesday and I am at my desk, having already had a giant cup of coffee and breakfast courtesy of Havas (thank you!).

Despite the heavy drinking and indulgence in rich food that also seem to be an integral part of media life, I can’t recommend the benefits enough. I am more alert, organised and productive than I ever thought possible – there’s no turning back now.

Gemma Smith is an account executive at Havas Media

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