Working at an Agency: Alex Chepovetsky of Havas Worldwide Canada
Landing your dream gig at an uber-cool creative agency sure sounds like a dream come true, right? So how can you make it happen? What skills does your dream employer look for? And above all else, when you finally get your foot get in the door, what can you expect when working at an agency?
Many think that working at an agency means you’ll be in charge of exciting projects that test your creative skills in an innovative environment. Every day you’ll be inspired by your visionary colleagues, bouncing ideas back and forth until you create a winning campaign that’s worthy of a Cannes Lions award. And in your down time, you’ll be hanging out in the lounge with a brewski in one hand and a X-Box control in the other. Sounds perfect, right?
Working at an agency means you have to work hard to play hard
What are some of the myths about agency life? Oh god, that’s a scary one. That it’s all fun? People have slides and foosball tables and Xbox’s? We have an Xbox here and we barely use it.
Folks work really hard, to bring all the different skills together in one room to deliver a solution.
The bottom line is that clients are well-educated. They hire us to produce results, and we have results falling into multiple channels – we have multiple experts in each channel that have to participate in any execution. It’s a lot of hands working very hard.
The user’s experience is crucial (just don’t call them users)
No matter what people say about the brand and the vision is all great, but everything we create is also people interacting with computers and screens. We need have 3 key goals to achieve – our business objectives, a friction-free user experience, and rock solid technology.
Things are moving fast. Voice recognition, artificial intelligence, wearables; all of these things are coming down the pipe. You can envision the experience of the smartwatch, for example, on the big screen, but then you have to develop it. It has to look great and it was to work!
You may not be designing a website because there might not be such a thing as a website ten years from now, because maybe it’ll all be voice activated. The delivery mechanism may change but you will always have the human. I hate the word users.
When it comes to hiring, personality goes a long way
Resumes are, by their nature, very positive things. It really is about, ‘can we work together?’ When people interview at Havas they interview with multiple people. One interview is a skills fit. The second is a personality fit. It might be with someone whose role seems unrelated, but because they don’t have a detail oriented idea of your role, they review the more human, day to day skills.
It pays to be versatile
The people you look for sometimes end up doing a variety of different things when they come in here. They’ll be a developer and a designer, or a UX designer and a developer, or a strategist and an analyst. You can have both your title and your role – your title being where you are professionally overall, and your role is where you are on a particular project.
I’m always looking for people who have a passion to learn different things.
They’re much more valuable because I can say ‘oh, I don’t have this position right now but I like this person and they can do this other job.’ That way we can keep them working with us, no matter what the future calls for.
To learn even more about working at an agency come check out RED Academy’s Agency Night on June 23rd in Toronto, where we’ll be discussing all things agency life with speakers from Send + Receive, Havas and Jam3.
Dan Ophaug is a copy and content writer currently based in Toronto, Ontario. Born and raised in the UK, Dan has also spent time living in Montreal and New Brunswick. With a background in both journalism and film studies, he decided his real passion was in writing, and has since worked with everyone from arts publications to tech startups to produce creative content.