Media: Double Standards - What's it like for a first-jobber in a media agency?

What motivated these two to join a media agency, how did they make their choice and where will it eventually lead them in terms of training and development?

ASHER BURRELL - MEDIA EXECUTIVE, MEDIACOM

- What led you to consider working at a media agency?

While studying Advertising and Marketing Communications at Bournemouth University, I was made aware of media planning early on in the course. In my third year, a number of media agencies including MediaCom came down to Bournemouth to interview us. Overall, they portrayed an interesting and exciting picture of the industry, which subsequently turned out to be true.

- What was especially attractive about the agency that hired you?

Being the highest-billing agency in the UK was an obvious pull, because I knew that under one roof there would be a wealth of experience and opportunity, and that has proven to be the case. In addition, the fact that many of the staff had remained with the agency for a number of years impressed me and made me think that MediaCom must be doing something very right to maintain that level of staff loyalty.

- What has surprised you most about the job so far?

MediaCom allows you to progress at your own rate, letting you do things when you're ready to, rather than sticking to a rigid timetable, but providing all the necessary support along the way. I had daily client contact within my first month of working here, and am consistently challenged. I believe that this is mainly due to a lack of a restrictive timetable of development.

- What training have you received from your agency?

MediaCom has a training programme called Propeller. It is useful because it's run alongside the appraisal periods, so your training is aligned with your personal development goals. It is all personally relevant, and the plan is developed in discussion with my director and the head of training and development.

- What's been the most exciting thing about the job so far?

As cliched as it sounds, the work is the most exciting thing for me. This job has the perfect balance between desk work and face-to-face interactions with the buying team, media owners and the clients.

- How much are you in a specialist role already, or have you been encouraged to work in different departments at the agency?

At MediaCom, you start and stay in the department you are hired into, but having day-to-day contact with all the trading teams has given me a good insight into how they work. Also, my team has a hot-desking initiative whereby we spend time sitting in different departments to get a better understanding of how other teams work.

- What are your ambitions for the next year?

My aim for the past 12 months was to learn the media basics and become fully competent with the different media disciplines. For 2009, I'm hoping to increase the autonomy of my role and look after a number of elements independently to develop my planning and account management skills.

- How would you sum up what you've learned so far?

After my first year in media, the main thing I've learned is to be willing to adapt. The industry, my clients and even my role have changed in the past year and will, no doubt, continue to do so. It is impossible to express in one sentence the sheer magnitude of information and skills that I have been exposed to and gained during my first year at MediaCom.

AMY O'MALLEY - TV ASSISTANT, MANNING GOTTLIEB OMD

- What led you to consider working at a media agency?

I wanted to work in a dynamic industry that allowed me to be analytical and creative at once, which is a very difficult brief for most industries. I also wanted to be able to work in an industry that encouraged you to build relationships internally and externally.

- What was especially attractive about the agency that hired you?

I really liked the community feel that I got from Manning Gottlieb OMD and the opportunities to be creative and put your own stamp on your work. I also liked the accounts that Manning Gottlieb OMD works on.

- What has surprised you most about the job so far?

Just how technically precise you have to be. I don't think I was aware of how mathematical a lot of the work would be or that the slightest change in a calculation or plan would have the ability to change a campaign so dramatically.

- What training have you received from your agency?

I was part of a graduate training scheme for the first nine months of my employment, which involved learning about the individual departments and how they function, as well as training in general skills such as presenting and PowerPoint. I have also had lots of on-the-job training and some external sessions, for example with Telmar.

- What's been the most exciting thing about the job so far?

The most exciting thing so far has been when I was given my first big-budget, high-profile TV campaign to buy. The idea of having that much responsibility was petrifying - but in a good way!

- How much are you in a specialist role already, or have you been encouraged to work in different departments at the agency?

Working in the television department of the agency, my role is already quite specialised, but I am also part of the TV sponsorship team, which has given me the opportunity to get involved in a more niche area of TV planning and buying.

- What are your ambitions for the next year?

To continually improve my skills as a TV buyer and become more involved in the planning process. I also hope to learn more about sponsorship and help to negotiate and secure some good deals.

- How would you sum up what you've learned so far?

I've learned that all clients are different and also just how important it is to be able to adapt to their brand and objectives. That, and how to handle my drink!