In-House vs. Agency: Three Differences From Experience

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like working for a company’s internal marketing department (In-house) vs at an agency promoting other companies, read on! Although the goals are similar overall, to increase business and maintain their brand, there are differences in culture and procedures. I’ve worked both, promoting the company I worked at and the last few years at agencies, from medium to large sized companies. Here are three takeaways from my first-person experience.

Agencies tend to be more open to change and trying new things

Change happens regardless of where you work. However, my experience has been that agencies are better at going with the flow and adapting quickly. Not only that but agencies are more open to out of the box ideas and better at keeping up with industry best practices. Working in-house, there tends to be already established procedures and decisions made at the C-level that are communicated out. Because of this they’re pretty set in their ways, which makes it harder to pivot and adapt to things on the fly.

You have to wear multiple hats (not just the cliche’ saying)

Agency life moves much faster and you have to be able to keep up. You tend to work with multiple different types of businesses, all with different goals and customers. One minute you may be working for a tech client and the next a consumer product (even sometimes both at once!). Working In-House, you’re usually on a task or product and working on predetermined projects, so most of the time, your wheelhouse is where you spend most of your time. Not to say the pace isn’t fast, but things tend to ebb and flow more than in the agency world.

The culture is vastly different

Working in-house, you only interact with coworkers if you need to. At agencies, I’ve found that more people will interact with you regardless of if you’ve ever worked together. In-house, people tend to stick to their corners, especially in larger companies. Not to say that in-house people weren’t friendly, it’s just they have a more narrow view of the “world” since they don’t seem branch out much further than the those they work with.

In short, in-house marketing is great for people looking to devote their time and energy towards helping their company succeed. It has the benefit of only having to learn a single business model and shorter product list. If you’re looking for a faster pace and the chance to work on a variety of projects for lots of different companies, agency life might be for you!

If you’d like to learn more about what it’s like working at an agency, or interested in working for SHIFT, see below!

Current Open Positions

Chris Boehmer

Senior Marketing Strategist


Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk