Why I Returned to Agency Life — and Advice For Making a Career Change

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Recently I made a career leap that had many people wondering about my state of mind. I left a fun corporate job to return to the advertising agency world. Yes, the world where deadlines are tight, clients are demanding and creativity is priceless. No, I’m not insane or going through a midlife crisis. I actually made a very wise and sound change for the good of my career and, believe it or not, my lifestyle.

I loved my previous job at Target. I loved my team, my partners, the work, the culture — I proudly wore red and khaki. But after six years, I realized that I wasn’t uncomfortable anymore. I was on autopilot. I was super busy but wanted to feel the energy that I got from a new challenge. After a lot of self-analysis (and listening to countless podcasts on inspiration), I decided that I had to jump out of my comfort zone.

Now you’re probably wondering why I went to the extreme opposite side. It really wasn’t that far of a leap when I considered what my motivations were. Here’s the advice I gave myself during the process that helped me make the tough but right decision. And it just might help others do the same.

Consider your career path.

During the process, I wondered: How do I take my career to the next level? Working with agencies was the best part of my previous job. I loved the energy and partnership. It dawned on me that if I was going to round out my experience and seek the best possible next career move (always think of your next), I needed to be a true expert in all things “agency.” I had a strong idea of how agencies functioned, but it had been 15 years since I worked at one. Despite the challenges that agency life presented, I knew I needed that experience again to build up my skills for the benefit of my future self.

What kind of environment helps you thrive?

Never underestimate the power of culture. Work culture can make or break a job (or a person). A big salary can never compensate for an uninspiring or damaging work environment. So I was very critical when selecting the right agency. This was right around the time when the director of business development role opened at Colle McVoy. The agency was one of my favorite partners when I was at Target. I always worked with incredibly smart, talented, strategic, inventive and genuinely nice people. And I often thought that if I were to go back to an agency, it would be that one. I knew Colle McVoy respected its people and work/life balance, making it a great fit for me.

Who are your role models?

It was mandatory that I work with talented people and clients. But what about the leadership? Who are the people managing the agency who I could look up to and who would inspire me to be my best? I’m lucky to work for and learn from one of the few female CEOs running a big firm in the Twin Cities. Christine Fruechte’s energy and passion are unparalled. She inspires me to do better every day. In addition, the entire leadership team is talented as well as diverse in thought and experience. Six months in, and my head is still spinning with the potential opportunities.

Can I add value?

I’m a mom and a nurturer. I need to add value each and every day. And that includes where I work. When I considered my career move, I knew that I needed to be where my experiences and learnings would be of benefit. I also needed to be in a collaborative environment where knowledge-sharing is promoted. I benefit from this culture, as does the agency as we grow and strive to be the best partners to our clients.

Once I had firm answers and advice to these key points, my career move was inevitable. I felt energized by the opportunities that lay ahead. It’s an assured feeling that I hope others experience and helps them make their next change.