Ask Esther // 63


Hi Esther,

So, I have a career question for you. Somedays I get to work, and I just panic. Is that normal?

I was working in a small agency as a writer, did well at award school last year and landed a job at a top agency. This would be great if I was 23. But I just turned 30.

So here I am, 30, barely surviving on 48k a year, haven’t won any awards or got any really great work up yet – and suddenly realising I want to have a baby in say, 3 years time.

I don’t have any mentor or anyone in my agency I can talk to about this, and I feel like I need to do something drastic – go work in asia for a year or something – because time is of the essence.

So I was wondering if you could help me with a few Q’s

– Could you recommend a course of action for me? It’s gnawing away at me that if I don’t do something now, I may never achieve success in this industry.

– How do I go about finding a mentor?

– How do I go about landing a job in asia?

Thanks so much. Holding all these questions in is killing me. I hope you can give me some advice.

Creative in a Hurry

Dear Creative in a hurry,

It is normal to feel the need to rush, but plenty of creatives got their start at around the age of 30. What happens if you start a bit later is that your career trajectory tends to be sharper and faster.

Age brings life experience and empathy to the mix, and “older” juniors are often accelerated into client facing roles and more complex briefs.

You have probably met a mentor already. And there might be more than one out there. A mentor is someone you know, with whom you can talk about your career. There’s no magic mentor hotline, it comes from developing relationships with people. Look around you. Was there a tutor at AWARD School? Is there a Senior Creative where you work? Mentoring is a two-way street. You give back to them as well. If no one you know seems right, look a little further. Talk to people, connect with them. Find excuses to meet people in the industry and develop your network.

Asia is a big place. Did you have somewhere specific in mind? You need to focus on a plan to live and work somewhere where you can continue to learn. Is the Asia idea to boost your earnings or your experience or both? Is your plan then to return home on a higher level? I am not sure you need to go to Asia to do that but if you have a good portfolio there are almost always jobs. Just depends which market you want to work in and what you can bring to the table with one year’s agency experience, packaged with your previous employment, plus education and achievements.

The panic you’re feeling may run deeper. If you are really feeling anxious, you should seek professional help. But if it’s about trying to get out from under the low starting salary and get your career moving, then concentrate on that. You are almost certainly already worth a higher salary than when you began at the agency. If you are kicking goals there, initiate a meeting with your boss for a review – both performance and salary. You are worth to the company what it would cost them to replace you. If you know that you are doing a job at a higher salary level you should be able to demonstrate that in a professional discussion about your role in the agency. If you do not feel like you have a case, or they don’t agree when you think you do, then leave. Get another job. Either in Asia or at another agency here. You don’t have to feel rushed but you do need to clarify your issues and focus on one thing at a time to build your career.

Good luck

You can ask Esther Clerehan anything about putting your book together, getting a job, what salary to ask for or what to do when someone steals your ideas. Go on, Ask Esther. There is no other creative recruiter with more experience to educate us on the art of the job hunt. You can email her here at junior at (wtf null@null lifeatthebottom

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 14/04/2015
Category: Ask Esther
Tagged: .