How to Turn an Entry-Level Job Into a Creative Agency’s Most Valuable Position

Worked in customer service, as an assistant, or in events? We’ve got the place you never knew you wanted.

Ilana Moreno
Aug 21 · 4 min read

Steve Jobs said in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”

As a fashion design major who left the industry, I dotted my resume with events and marketing jobs post-graduation, trying to hone in on my “passion” while simultaneously second-guessing myself. Each new dot prompted uncertainty, inducing questions like “Where will this lead?” and “Am I restarting my career from square one?”

This is the vortex of self-doubt that the ‘hustle’ generation is experiencing in droves. We exit college aspiring to a 4-hour workweek under you-can-do-anything pretenses and enter 60-hour workweek realities, and so begins the trek bopping from one job to the next to keep our skills relevant and minds constantly challenged.

If this all-too-familiar scenario sounds like you, allow me to introduce you to the world of the agency.

At Brllnt, our people come from all walks of life: food and beverage, sales, events, interior design, school, corporate, freelance, and beyond. What connected all of our dots was a constant curiosity to go beyond and a set of skills honed by each bop made along the way, setting us up to succeed in this customer service-oriented, fast-paced, and growth-minded environment.

Still curious, but not sure which dots on your resume apply? These entry-level jobs may help you get your foot in the door at a creative agency.

Retail & Hospitality

Key Skills Acquired

  • Customer service
  • Problem-solving
  • Verbal communication

Why It’s Valuable

As a restaurant host or a sales associate at the mall, this is your first opportunity to serve a customer. Every job that follows will involve a customer — either internal or external — and knowing how to work with them is key to career success.

What I Learned

  • Making strangers feel welcomed.
  • Putting myself in the customer’s shoes: what do they see when they walk in? How do they feel? What motivated them to come in?
  • Maintaining an inviting and organized environment so the customer can easily find what they’re looking for.

How It Applies

The nature of agency work is solving problems. With problems come emotions like frustration, curiosity, and gratitude. Communication is key to solving problems and navigating situations when a customer is upset or frustrated. To survive in an agency, it’s imperative to navigate all of those with respect, understanding, and patience.

For more insights on customer service, listen to this HBR Ideacast with Jagdip Singh, professor of marketing at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western University.

Event Management

Key Skills Acquired

  • Organization
  • Attention to detail
  • Deadline adherence
  • Chaos management

Why It’s Valuable

Event management requires wearing many hats and keeping track of everyone else’s. People think the job is fun and glamorous after attending well-executed events. What they don’t realize is how many parts are moving right under their noses. Being a planner requires a lot of well-organized preparation and the flexibility to switch gears at a moment’s notice.

What I Learned

  • Juggling multiple projects, requests, and deadlines — in the office and an event site
  • Budget management: math really is required for the real-world, even if you pursue an art or creative career
  • Vendor communication and management, especially when something goes wrong (which happens, without exception, at every single event)

How It Applies

Agency-life is fast-paced, and can be stressful if you’re disorganized and not comfortable jumping between tasks. With a background in event management, you’re well-positioned to excel in this environment. The biggest bonus? You’ll work fewer nights and weekends.

Consider yourself organized but still have trouble remembering or staying on top of certain things? Try writing it down by hand.

Executive Assistant

Key Skills Acquired

  • Managing up
  • Project management
  • Business

Why It’s Valuable

Becoming an extension of your boss means getting an inside look at being an Executive and running a company. As your boss’s right-hand person, you play a significant role in ensuring they stay on schedule, are accountable to their duties and asks, and are wholly equipped to lead. Their success is your success.

What I Learned

  • What it takes to run a business, from finances to marketing and operations.
  • How to communicate professionally on behalf of another person, recognizing that your behavior reflects directly on the perception of the company and your boss.
  • Why “managing up” is one of the most valuable skills that every person in any job should practice.
  • Feeling comfortable working directly with executives.

How It Applies

Every agency project involves multiple stakeholders of all communication styles and levels of seniority, inside and outside of your organization. Understanding how to work with all of them, and help them help you get what you need to move the project forward, will make your job easier and smoother.

Interested in learning more about managing up? I highly recommend Mary Abbajay’s latest book on the subject.

Be Brllnt

Marketing is Design is Everything

Ilana Moreno

Written by

Be Brllnt

Be Brllnt

Marketing is Design is Everything

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade