This article about ad agencies particularly hit home: IT’S NOT WORTH IT’: Ad exec’s brutal rant before he died of cancer is absolutely chilling
This is why I left Advertising about about a year and specifically state on my LinkedIn “No Ad Agencies, please. Client side only.”
When I worked in Advertising 80 hours were my minimum work week. I never saw my friends and family and I had started to black out a couple times a day. Once (OK, more than once) It almost had me hitting the floor very hard. My average day was so packed that I’d often need to use the bathroom for 4 hours before finally being able to pull myself away from a meeting to pee.
The worst part? People BRAGGED about how many hours they worked. I only worked at a couple Agencies in NYC and NJ so I can’t comment about how it is anywhere else or at other agencies. From my perspective from where I worked this is ingrained in Ad Agency cultures such that they even have an #AgencyLife tag on Twitter that they use to brag about it. You know what is a part of #AgencyLife? This 24 year old died from a 30 hour shift and having to be propped up with Red Bull.
I was also, quite literally, working myself to death. The average employee in my particular Agency had a 6 month shelf life. You couldn’t find many who had been there longer.
I saw in my own company people who slept in their offices for 2 hours and then woke up to do another 22 hour day as THE NORM. This was not “crunch time”. This was not rare. This was all the time.
I ended up leaving because I insisted on not going over 80 hours after almost blacking out twice, having finally worked 12 days straight in addition to my normal 80 hour work week. I had requested comp time so that I could at least get some sleep but they literally laughed in my face.
Soon after, I inexplicably almost started vomiting at work and then the next thing I knew my head was on the table and I couldn’t move. I was so close to being hospitalized that I was frozen at my desk, unable to move my head. It felt like I hadn’t seen my husband for the entire time I had worked there.
I was seen as “not committed enough. How dare I want a weekend?
I don’t regret working in Advertising because I learned a lot and it got me to where I am today, but my body was falling apart and I couldn’t do it ever again.
To a lesser extent, the crushing schedule/treadmill idea is why I also walked away from weekly webcomic production. I’d personally never do that again. I know people who it works for, but that isn’t me. An all in one project? Sure. But never again the treadmill. My family and friends are too important at this stage in my life. This is also why I’ve been a hard ass about getting good staffers who will staff my cons with me. I’ve given too much already. Up until this year Harknell and I literally did 80% of the con work before con. I needed some life back or I’d not make it. Not many people know how close I’ve been to maxing myself out.
I am grateful for those who have helped and thus allowed me to regain a modicum of health.
I still work too much, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to all of you.
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