Still in the process of thinking my long term career goal ...

I am thinking about the difference between working as a inhouse staff (e.g. an inhouse marketing manager) vs an external agency/consultant (e.g. a market research agency, a business consultant).

I always think I am an external guy because I enjoy changing working environment, taking part in different projects from time to time. However, I also believe that an internal staff got a more stable and promising working enviornment, easier to get promote as long as you stay in the same company for some time. They also do a more solid, sustainable business. Am I right that there is no or very few agency/ consultancy firms in the fortune 500 list?

Could anyone share your preference?


tonys's picture

I know that it is only personal preference. I just want to start a thread here about the topic. There must be some signifiant and a few subtle differences between the two. As I am going to move from an internal staff to a business consultant, I would like to know about the rule of the game beforehand.

I talked to my friend who is working in AC Nielsen. He said that everyone in agencies here were eager to move to inhouse staff. Interesting!!

Tks again.


jhack's picture

I've done both. I recommend you try both before you decide. They are very different, and have their unique challenges and rewards.

If you are successful consulting, you generate revenue and therefore have more control over your destiny (until you stop generating enough revenue!). Doing great client work is a kick, and many folks find it intrinsically rewarding. Consulting generally pays more. But your lifestyle (travel and being at the whim of clients) may be less to your liking (or more!)

In-house is more stable, and you can really impact the company in a big way when you work on strategic projects. You typically get to sleep in your own bed and see your family the vast majority of the time.

Folks are often eager to move in-house when the consulting hours (travel, too) and the pressure of doing client work are beyond reasonable.

My 2 cents...


corinag's picture

As you said, it's a matter of personal preference: I personally prefer in-house, because I like to have a handle on the overall communications process, rather than just the bits that a company chooses to outsource.

I do have a story though, of a friend who worked primarily in marketing consulting roles since her graduation (7 years), and who is now finding it difficult to get a position within a company. The reactions she gets are that she is very knowledgeable, but perhaps less than savvy about office politics, and less able to get things moving at the organizational level. This may have to do with the Romanian market, where communications and marketing consultants are not ultimately responsible for the bottom-line results, only for the output and impact of their particular slice of the work, so companies sometimes feel that agency people are more able to deliver on multiple smaller projects, than on an overall company approach.

That being said, it's always up to you. You can do a better job when the circumstances are congenial.

That being said, if you do choose consultancy, I'd advise you to make sure that it's a company that has long-term customers and a broader range of services, rather than niche services for a multitude of small projects. That way, you'd get to experience a little of the corporate environment as well, and be more prepared to transition to it if you grow dissatisfied with consulting.