It’s been just over a month since I started my “first real job” at an advertising agency in Amsterdam. I think this is a good time to reflect upon my experience, since a month is long enough to get the idea but not long enough that the insane becomes mundane.
My experience of advertising was actually shaped by all of my excellent colleagues at my previous agency, Arnold Amsterdam.Having stepped into a company that was sinking quickly allowed me to develop a highly nuanced view of the industry. Witnessing the death throes of a business exposes an acute view of its finer details, the ups and the downs, the game being played. Not that I became good at it. But I got a good understanding of it. People had time to explain things to me. People knew me well enough to complain openly in front of me.
So my first month in the new agency has probably been different than what they expected when I walked in. When I have to work until midnight only to be told everything is wrong and I have to re-start the next day; each time we land at our desks with a pile of crap bigger than we can handle – someone always turns to me ruefully and says: “Hey, welcome to the world of advertising. This is the business we’re in.” And all I can say in return is… “I know. I’ve seen it.”
This is why I haven’t come into the company guns blazing, fired up to make the next greatest thing. Some would say this makes me cynical. Some would say it makes me overly cautious. Maybe even boring. But I think I’ve come prepared to do good work. I just don’t expect glitz and glamour.
At the end of the day, I still believe advertising is the most fun industry out there. And I believe I have a lot to learn before I can consider myself even remotely “good” at the advertising game.
But I also believe it’s not a perfect entity. Like any sexy, fun part of your life, it has its flaws. Like any such relationship, it takes a while to learn to accept these flaws, and learn to handle them, and even leverage them to your advantage. And I believe that in the past month I’ve (only!) learned how to accept that the flaws exist.
I still get blindsided by negative reviews. I still get angry and upset and cry in the toilets Mad Men style. I’m still exhausted, all the time, and I still crawl home lots of days utterly defeated and drink myself to sleep. But I know that these things will happen, and I love this job despite it. And I will learn how to play the game.