You've been at your agency for a year or two, and are starting to feel like things aren't the same. Maybe you're burnt out on a client. Or you feel like you've stopped growing the way you want to. Or you're just curious what else is out there. At the same time, you love the people you work with, and the agency where you started your career. What do you do? How do you know it's the right time to start looking for what's next? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate this period of questioning.
Note—This is meant for situations where it's unclear whether to stay or leave an agency. If you're clearly unhappy or are in a toxic environment, please get yourself out asap.
Zoom out and look at your current job in the context of what you want to do in the future.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day of your job, and to let your immediate emotions (stress, frustration, but also loyalty and security) drive your decision-making. For both reasons, it's helpful to step back and think about what you want to do longer-term. Do you want to get to a certain title? Work on specific type of clients, or focus on a particular type of work? Whatever you see in your future, use it to assess your current job. Is what you're doing now getting you closer to where you want to be in the future? Your answer can help clarify whether you should stay or leave.
Be vocal with your boss/team on what you're missing.
You don't have to tell your boss that you're thinking about leaving, but give the agency an opportunity to make your current situation better. If you need more guidance in a certain area, or want to get your hands on more projects, your boss and team should know, so they can try to address your needs. This will also set you up if you do decide to leave—it won't be as much of a surprise, and the agency will have had a chance to fix things.
Talk with people outside your agency.
It helps to get some outside perspective in times of questioning. Now would be a great time to find and reach out to people outside your agency in roles a couple levels above you. You don't have to explicitly ask them whether you should stay or go—the goal is to hear about what they do and how they've made decisions in their own careers. This also helps build connections you can leverage when you do decide to leave. (But it should be clear when you first reach out that you're not hitting them up looking for a job—yet.)
Find ways to add value to the agency outside of your client work.
If your agency experience is based only on the work you're doing for clients, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Make your time at the agency multidimensional by finding ways to make the experience of working there better. Maybe that means organizing a speaker series or starting an interest group within the agency. Or taking new interns out to lunch. From my experience, it only takes one person with an idea to start something that can really impact the agency experience for everyone—and make your time there better.
You got this,