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Five years isn’t that long in the big scheme of things, and yet, it’s safe to say that in 2015, few of us could have predicted just how much things would change—and in what weird ways they’d change. Similarly, we can expect much to change in 2020 and the years to come. And while we’re not predictors of the future, we’ve got five predictions for creative jobs in 2020.

The Rise of the Hybrid

College graduates are no longer coming out of marketing programs as one-trick ponies. That junior copywriter you just hired may also be a portrait photographer/graphic designer/coder-in-the-making. The next generation of creatives will seek opportunities to explore all their interests and capabilities simultaneously. So agencies and in-house teams should take note by adapting their offerings and entry-level tracks to match the change of the times. 

“Kids come out of college today with a fiery creative spirit and a desire to create all the time. They are hybrids. Defining them would be putting them in a straitjacket,” said Havas GCD Paul Vinod. 

Creative as Both Art and Science

“[In the next five years,] I don’t know if specific jobs functions will no longer exist per se, but I do think that any creative working in a marketing-related job will need to allow data to play an important role in shaping their creative concepts” said Melina Peterson, founder of Cornerlight Digital. “For example, in order for creative to work well in ads on constantly changing social media platforms, a real-time feedback loop of ‘what’s working’ and ‘what’s not’ is key to driving positive results. Creative has to be produced with both art and science in mind.”

Survival of the Savvy

With once seemingly unshakable media companies now struggling and huge layoffs across the board, those that survive will be the savviest among them. Mergers may become the norm, as firm leaderships identify potential partner companies. Let’s take Vox Media acquiring New York Magazine as an example.

“No one had to do this. It’s a brilliant opportunity, so that’s why we leaned into it,” said New York Media CEO Pamela Wasserstein of the merger.  “It’s not out of need. It’s out of ambition.”

The merging companies claimed it wasn’t a cost-cutting measure, but a potentially symbiotic working relationship that they believe will benefit both companies. It remains to be seen whether that’s true—this week, Vox laid off hundreds of freelance contractors in California ahead of the state’s new gig economy law—but for now, we’ll take Wasserstein & Co. at their word.

No One Cares You Went to College

Once the only way to get a foot in the door, creative jobs at major companies, such as Apple, Netflix, and Google, no longer require applicants to have a college degree. Considering the rapidly-rising cost of higher education in America (the average student graduates with $29,800 in debt, according to Student Loan Hero), this shift will likely make new career tracks increasingly accessible to the general population. 

“We’ve never really thought that a college degree was the thing that you had to do well. We’ve always tried to expand our horizons,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Rise of in-house and independent agencies

“The holding group model is broken,” said a succinct, spot-on lede in a recent AdWeek article. And just as the rigidly traditional Mad Men-era agencies had to adapt or die, holding company behemoths are experiencing the same sort of reckoning. As agencies are bought out and bureaucratic red tape seems to hold together every brief, clients are bringing more work in-house than before. In fact, according to a 2018 Association of National Advertisers Report, 90% of surveyed brands say they’ve boosted their internal operations. We predict the trend will continue, if slowly, and that there will be a moment in the sun for independent agencies, and a continued bulk-up of in-house talent.

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