( In response to the same question on another blog )
The best mentors have been those who 'threw me to the wolves.' You are an observer by nature. Stop asking questions and watch quietly. You might learn more quickly. I wouldn't be to concerned with learning processes either. There is a general time of acclimation allocated for processes with any company. Depending on the level you enter a company at, you'll be given an appropriate amount of time. Most are generally the same. I would stay focused on what's being said and demonstrated. This is advertising, learn how to act first. A small shop will give you practical experience in a tactile environment. I larger shop will teach you politics and processes. Inevitably you will figure out the business as you want to perceive it. You will continually improve your skill set both creatively and professionally along the way. As with most educational experiences, take the lesson and apply it somewhere else. Don't expect to much from anyone at this stage. People are more likely to offer advice–then deal with general inquiries that aren't relevant to the moment. As for you initial question, do both. One will pay you for having experience with the other.
( The poster then responds with an inquiry about award shows )
We are, like most, a self perpetuating industry. Awards are a clear demonstration of more than just good creative. It's much more than a BIG idea. Find an environment where you feel your going to learn something-valuable and viable, potentially contributing and re-writing the rules your so eager to throw in those nay-sayers faces. I'll be the first to admit, it's motivating to be told 'you cant' and won't,' only to exceed and succeed those narrowed perceptions. But that attitude will self-destruct and ultimately affect your work. No ego's in this business. Trade it in for that initial passion that brought you to this industry. You might be surprised at how many doors open up in multiple directions. These 'hot shops,' –there are relationships that supersede the initial 'creative process.' People understand the brands, the clients objectives and ultimately the clients themselves. This relationship was 'created' long before a creatives' pencil hit the paper for that award-winning concept. You might have a great idea, but the clients have to get it first. Which determines if it makes it to the award show. If your that talented, you should be able to take any turd and make it diamond. Big shop or small. Don't tell everyone how good, passionate or talented you are. Show people, where ever you go, big or small. You are your own advertisement. Where would you place yourself if you were a product to help overall production? How quickly would you become obsolete or be improved upon. At what pace can you adapt and work.
Of course, this is my humbled opinion. 8)
Good luck to all.