Happy Adferversary!

Five years ago today, on September 18th 2006, I started my first graduate position as a DirectNews correspondent at Adfero.

For those of you who don't know, Adfero is an online news agency. It has offices in London, Manchester and Leeds, but Manchester is its largest editorial department.

As with any job, I encountered colleagues I'd like to know for the rest of my life, and some managers I'd rather forget. There were good days and bad days.

This post is really for those of you trying to decide whether you should work for Adfero - I know there are a few of you, as I see you in my search traffic.

Should I work for Adfero?

I left Adfero to become self-employed, in the middle of a recession. That act alone should be an indication of how unbearable my role had become.

However, that's not to say you shouldn't work for them yourself - it really depends on what you need from the position.

If you have no experience and want a decent graduate position that will pay the bills for a while, go for it - they'll take you straight out of university, mostly because a lot of more experienced people have already worked there and left.

If you want a career where you can quickly climb the ladder, go for it - but leave your conscience and social life at the door, as you'll have to put in long hours to make any serious progress.

If you're a journalist looking for experience, avoid Adfero. They'll help you to pass your NCTJ, but other than that there's no real research or story-chasing involved.

What went wrong?

This is the other thing. If you make it to the interview stage, you should find you get a pretty honest outline of what the role entails.

It's basically researching, writing, editing and publishing about 30 175-word articles per day. Or roughly 5,000 words of content per working day.

When I was interviewed, it was 16-18 articles per day. So 30 proved to be something of a sensitive issue for me, five years down the line.

There are new processes and procedures in place to help you hit the target, but largely speaking they tend not to work as planned. If you can cope with finding your own way to get through the work - without just massively cutting corners - then by all means, work for Adfero.

What went right?

The first three years there were not so bad. I met some really talented people - many of whom I'm still in contact with.

It's probably no coincidence that the turnaround came as the recession started to bite; the workloads increased, disciplinary action seemed more widespread and generally, my enthusiasm for the place began to crumble.

Until that time, there had been plenty of opportunities to try new things - hence why, although I started out as a journalist, I ended up writing SEO-led longer pieces for other parts of people's websites, and not just their news.

There are opportunities to switch to other roles, such as the researcher team, gathering quotes and comments on the news stories of the day.

So to summarise - get in, get the experience, get out as soon as you can. Unless you enjoy the job, in which case stay and you should do well.

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