In-house vs Agency

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  • nb

    (Present day in NYC or similar major city.)

    Which is better to work for and WHY?

  • dkoblesky2

    Depends on whether you want quality of life or quality of portfolio

  • CyBrainX2

    I rarely had a hard time with quality of life when I worked at agencies. The advantage is a variety of work. You can switch to another client after a year at an agency. There is a higher percentage creatives you'll be dealing with. You are less likely to be drug tested and have dress codes enforced.

    The advantage of working in house is the stability. Agencies have higher turnover.

    • Truth. Stability. But your hours were very stable? Thing about in-house is you can count on your weekends being free 99% of the timedkoblesky
    • Drug tests? You Americans are so up tight, lolspot13
    • lol drug tests!nb
    • I had to take one for the New York Stock Exchange. I was tempted to tell them to fuck off but at least I got 3+ years there.CyBrainX
    • Design job drug test should be like a skills exam. Can you finish the work whilst high off assnb
    • That would be more justified.CyBrainX
  • ben_1

    I work in a hybrid Strategy (like biz and and brand) and Creative consultancy. It's an absolute pile of egos and posturing, but I will say I've worked less hours and smarter hours than any in-house or traditional agency ever. Aside from owning my own shop for about 10 years it's the closest I've come to "good" in this industry.

    That's to say that there are other options outside of those two traditional placements.

    • I will also say that I've never seen significant bonuses in either traditional agency or in-house roles.ben_
    • Hot takenb
  • shapesalad1

    Agency until 35 approx., In-house until retire.

    • back to Agency if mortgage paid off, kids left home and Agency is senior senior role (Don't need to do the graft).shapesalad
    • this is generally correct I thinkdkoblesky
  • Projectile0

    I've always been in-house in my permanent roles. You get to work on a wide variety of project types, but limited to one brand. Learn new skills because there's no one to do that.

    Not done both, but it seems like in an agency you're the [insert discipline] guy. You can work across different brands, but always in the same software

    Also in-house is less competitive, but still pays

  • DaveO2

    I was at agencies for years and have been in house for the last three years. Here are my findings...

    Agency good: getting experience and agility, working across categories, learning how to present, getting in the mix with different scales of clients. Process was great and organization of workflow, as well as having a studio manager that looked out for peoples welfare and resource allocation. Also, having strategy as a discipline and function is great.

    Agency bad: for all the pitches, and the whole notion that we were always feeling like we were convincing clients to make things. Also felt like i met a load of people who'd worked at agencies for ages but never really made anything or been on a shoot in their lives. Also the second guessing that comes with trying to 'do something the client has never done before' rather than trying to be consistent and evolutionary for the clients business. Selling work that serves the agency more than the client. Lack of professionalism and toxic cultures.

    In house good: Better hours and expectations for sure. No pitches – which turn people / owners into psychopaths. Better pay (so far) and good healthcare, stock, bonus that is less subjective and more quantifiable. Also being part of a big brand gives you backing so if people know and love the brand they treat you very differently. Checking into hotels for instance – i got a much better welcome when the booking is under Ralph Lauren than when it was a creative agency. Buying into the cult of the brand is also fun, to a point, and discounted product helps that right along. Making content consistently is way more creatively rewarding than having months spent pitching an idea and then watching it get diluted and ruined over time. In house we are making stuff all the time so getting better at the craft of it (photography / filmmaking etc).

    In house bad: Same client / people all the time. The company's fortunes affect yours and there's no 'new business' push that you can do do get big new wins. Corporate red tape gets hard when it comes to IT / staffing etc.

  • microkorg2

    What everyone else has said!

    Worked at digital agencies since 1999. Was at a top UK one, helped build one, started one, sold one...

    ... worked at the one I sold until Nov of last year and just jacked it in. Some colleagues had jumped to inhouse at a tech company and told of the strict 9-5 hours, the better pay, the more chilled atmosphere, more time to spend with the kids etc.

    So I made the leap too. Been at this place a year now. Really enjoying it and wish I'd made the jump ages ago!

    As theres never really any evening/weekend work needed to be done it allows me to do freelance stuff on the side. So means I can still pick and choose cool jobs to do.

  • dyspl0

    I haven't done much agency work -never really felt it was my thing- , I've mostly work in-house with some freelance stints here and there in between jobs.

    In-house can be very fulfilling creatively if you find a brand that you align with. If you're lucky you can find yourself working almost all the time on projects you like and with very little creative block and/or frustrations.

    • Also, I work in the sport industry. Very relaxed environment, not corporate at all.dyspl
  • utopian0

    Go work in Finland, only a 4 day work week and 6 hour a days, LOL

    • Well nobody truly works for 8 hours daily or does something worthy 5 days of week so...grafician
  • dkoblesky0

    There is a trap for in-house (which is kind of similar to Agency I think but less so)

    If you are competent they will want you to become management, which at first can be flattering but you can find yourself moving away from doing actual design to just being in meetings all day

    A few years of this and you may have a bit more money and status, but you haven't touched Photoshop for two years.

    At that point you need to evaluate who you are: A manager or an actual designer

    If you are happy being management, fine. But personally I hate being in meetings all day and prefer not to manage people. I like working with the tools

    • I say that moving into management in-house is indicative of higher job stability and is far more preferable than being an easily replaceable artistmonospaced
    • ^ true datzarkonite
    • As you get older your value is more about experience and management.dyspl
    • you can be an easily replaceable manager

      I just like using the tools and hate managing people. its like babysitting
    • It’s not as easy to replace a leader. It takes a long time to get a new one up to speed and companies hesitate to go through that disruption.monospaced
  • monospaced3

    Agencies are quicker to turn around staff, and agency staff are far more likely to jump around from company to company, or go freelance. Agency life isn't easy, and isn't as stable, which right now in NYC during COVID isn't a good thing.

    As in-house staff, I feel like I'm far more stable in my role. While my company has completely halted sending work to agencies, we have retained all staff and have brought more work in-house. My job is far more stable than ANYONE I know in agencies. In fact, I'd say 85-90% of people I know in agencies were let go during COVID. Only about 10% of in-house designers I know were.

    Conclusion. In-house in NYC is better than agency, right now.