What's it like to go in-house if you've never done it before?
December 17, 2016 1:34 AM   Subscribe

After 12+ years of working in marketing and technology on the agency side, I've finally taken an in-house job. I'm very excited, but also can only really guess what I'm getting myself into. Have you made the same switch?

Asking anonymously because, while I've already resigned, it's not yet public and I don't want my main user account (which is linked to my real identity) to have this question associated with it if my new employer chances to google me.

So I went into a consulting/technology job after a year of service/temp jobs after university, then moved into a marketing agency, then into a digital agency. I now work in UX design and digital project management and I'm a mid-level supervisor type in terms of seniority.

After a long search, I have been successful in landing a full time permanent job with a finance company, doing UX design. I've got a wide range of experience from the finance industry and a whole load of others, so I'm not worried about my ability to do the job. I think that will be fine.

Where I do have a degree of trepidation is with the whole idea of working in a permanent in-house job.

A big driver for me making this move has been to learn some new things (with actual structured professional development, rather than whatever I can learn on the job) , plus the chance to work on some stuff that is a bit wider scope than another website rebuild, and hopefully to get a little more life in the work/life balance equation. I'm getting this - way better holiday, shorter contractual hours and much better reward package overall. But I know it's going to be very different - I just don't know in what ways it will be different.

I would love to hear from Mefites who might have made the switch from a client-based, agency-type career to an in-house one. What was it like? What do you wish you'd known? What did you get wrong initially? What expectations or habits did you have to adjust?

Specifically if you've gone from the agency world to in-house doing a similar job to the one I describe above, I'd really, really like to hear about the differences between in-house and agency user experience work.

All of this is in the UK, if it makes a difference to your answers.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, the biggest difference is the speed at which things happen. Client-side can seem very ssslllloooooowwwwwww compared to agency life.

The good thing about this is that it's easy to make a name for yourself as the person who gets things done.

The downside is that it can be frustrating explaining, again, to yet another manager, why it would be a good idea to do things the way you propose, when inside you're thinking "If I could just stop explaining and start doing, it would be done by tomorrow".
posted by ZipRibbons at 5:06 AM on December 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did this (in the US).

- You will be more aware of/involved in office politics. You're not an outsider come to save the day who can be ignorant about certain people's feelings and motivations.
- Related, you have to provide more proof of why you should do the thing you want to do. You are not in a position where people will automatically trust you because you have "expertise" anymore.

- You will be a part of long-term, lasting change with the things you do get done. People have actually bought into it instead of just some random stakeholder signing off on pie-in-the-sky ideas.
- You get to iterate on your work and learn from your mistakes.

- You will probably change teams less often, so you will get to know the people you're working with more.
posted by thirdletter at 5:56 AM on December 17, 2016

You are now working 9 - 5. Enjoy it.
posted by xammerboy at 7:34 AM on December 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of my friends (who works in UX in the US) switched from an agency job to in-house work, and she said the biggest adjustment for her was the lack of variety and hard project boundaries. At an agency, she could work on a website for a flooring company one week and dog food the next. Projects were a little more cut and dry; when her part was okayed by the client, that was the end of that and she could check that box on her to-do list.

Because in-house work is focused all around one organization, the work deadlines and project completion milestones can get a little muddier ("I thought we'd finished that project four months ago?" "Well, Jan from X department hadn't seen it, and she wants to make Y change because Z.") and the work can feel a little more repetitive as a result. But, as you said, the upside to this is that you can really drill deep and really affect some change, and it's a great learning opportunity.

Congrats on the new job, and good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 1:14 PM on December 19, 2016

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