Back in November 2006, Scamp wrote this short post that I just re-found and felt it prudent to share. I've had this question in my mind for a while and think I agree with his take on it. Below is the post. Below that are some comments but full credit goes to Scamp, his awesome blog and you just need to click the title of the post to go directly to his post.
Young teams often ask "Should I take a job in a not-so-good agency, or hang tough till I get hired somewhere great?"
Between a rock and a hard place
The answer is it depends on your individual financial circumstances. If your internal organs are about to be called-in by loan sharks, then obviously you have to take the job. But if you have rich parents, or some money saved, a cushy part-time job, or have found a way to survive by eating everyday household objects, then it's better to wait.
Plenty of great teams started in not-so-good agencies. The key is what you do when you get there. You don't settle. You don't sit on your arse. You spend all your spare time working on the one good account they do have. And the rest of your time working on your spec book. When my partner and I were at a rubbish agency, we spent every night working on our book. Not once a week. Every night.
There will be lots of nice people there, and probably quite a few good creatives too. Don't get suckered in by that. Keep focused on getting out. Because the vast majority of great work, is done by the great agencies. And sooner or later, you want to get into one of those.
Something Scamp mentioned rings particularly true for me, and it's regarding your financial situation. Some people might say stick it out, push through to a great shop, eat Top Rammen for 5 months straight but to be quite frank, I don't have that luxury. My experience has always had me make decisions based on necessity more than forward thinking and I'm sure more than one person would call me an asshole or say I've gotten what's coming to me, but many of these people have the luxury of inheriting money rather than debt, and properties rather than problems. No I'm not making this out to be a pity party, but I am pointing my fingers to some of the elite who turn their noses up to some people because of the shit work that they do. Last I checked, they weren't whoring, they weren't selling drugs and they weren't selling stolen kidneys on the black market. This means that sometimes, us mortals have to work at less than glamorous places to pay the bills. That being said, although I sometimes hate my job, I can at least look myself in the eye and always say I've done the best I can do and if the work isn't better, 99.9% of the time it's because of clients, execs or factors I can't control. Apart from that, interesting that I was able to come across the great old school post and my thanks to Scamp for keeping up the good work. Also of note are Eugens, Texanhippie, Thinkinginvain, Makethelogobigger, Jetpacks and anyone else who has caught my attention enough to have me frequent their blogs because they have something good to offer as food for thought. Cheers to you guys and to all the readers who enjoy our brand of Two cent wisdom, you give a purpose to our madness, and I'm thankful for every hit we get, every read you enjoy and every bitchfit I get out of my system for your enjoyment.
Peace, Love, and Maki Rolls.