It might be just the end of March for you and me, but to thousands of graduating college seniors, it is a very nervous time. It’s time for college seniors to assess their options and make a decision about where they want to start their careers.
Not-for-profit? Agency? Corporate? Freelance?
Which one is the best option? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. There are benefits of and cons of each and something that is good for one person may not be good for someone else. Below is an overview of the different options.
Not-for-profit: In a not-for-profit role, you need to be ready to wear multiple hats because your team and resources will be small. As much as this is a drawback, it can also be viewed as an advantage because you have to figure out how to do everything. Media relations. Public relations. Social media. Marketing strategy. Promotions. You’ll learn how to do it all. So, with extremely tight budgets, little resources and even smaller pay, why would anyone work not-for-profit? Two main reasons, 1) you get a ton of experience because you’ll wear many hats and usually get into a situation or two that is above your head, but there is no one else to do it and 2) you are working for a cause. Working for a cause is normally the biggest reason why people enjoy working not-for-profit.
Agency: Enter Sterling Cooper Draper Price. Who wouldn’t want to work in an agency after watching Mad Men? Coming out of school, I definitely wanted the hot shot agency job. It’s kind of like the sexy job opportunity in our field. The fun, creative, edgy feel you get when you think about the big ones out there, Edelman, Ogily, 360i etc. The truth is, they can be fun, creative and edgy, but normally not for the entry-level kid coming out of college. You’ll need to do the grunt work, which you will learn a TON, but I just don’t want you thinking you are walking and on day one you are Don Draper. In most agencies, if you work hard, you can move up fast. However, on the flip side, you move up fast sometimes because there is heavy turnover at agencies, with people jumping from agency to agency to get more money and a higher title. Also, keep in mind that if you are on a team for a specific client and that client leaves, you might be out a job.
Corporate: Coming out of college this was probably the least attractive option in my head, but I actually ended up in a growing Fortune 1000 company and could not be happier. I think the idea of corporate America is what put such a bad taste in my mouth about corporate coming out of college, but there are advantages. One of them is job security. If you work with a well-established company, they are investing a lot into you and expect you to be in it for the long haul. There are normally really nice benefits including tuition reimbursement. You also get really immersed into a culture and brand, which is nice because you feel like you are part of the brand. The flip side is that with a big company comes bureaucracy and you might feel like just another cog in the machine. I ended up being really lucky in the fact that my company’s marketing department is run the same way as an ad agency. Meaning of the story, definitely check out corporate situations because you just never know!
Freelance: This is the tricky one because it is solely up to your drive and who you know. You can do this as much or as little as you want. You are your own boss. Work the hours you want and do the projects you want too. On the flip side, simply put, you might got any work or simply be cut unexpectedly. I wouldn’t recommend doing this as your main gig out of college. Do it on the side or while you are looking for the full-time job, but to come out of school thinking you are only going to freelance is a tough call.
I hope the brief insights above help you make your decision after college or even mid-career a little easier. Please let me know post any questions or comments you have below, we’d love to hear and answer them.