Everyone going into the public relations, advertising, and/or marketing fields understands the concept of an agency, but not everyone gets to experience it. I have been lucky enough to get a taste this summer of all that this particular realm of the industry has to offer and cannot overstate the positive effect it has had on my personal growth. Much of this is owed to the organization and people I interned for, who believe that all interns can bring more to the table than just getting coffee and doing work around the office. Working here has created a summer of growth and learning that will guide me for the rest of my life.
At my particular internship, I am entrusted to be part of six different teams that work on various campaigns for a multitude of companies. This leads me to the most important component of working at an agency: as a twenty-one-year-old I get to contribute work to real companies that people interact with on a daily basis. Not to diminish the importance of in-house public relations, but in my opinion, working at a single company would not privy me to such widespread experience. Additionally, the fast-paced nature and consistent intensity of agency life, while calling for a well-oiled personal time management system, led to a greater learning experience.
This relentless workload funnels me into another cornerstone of agency life that is often overlooked but remains crucial. Work at an agency, due to varying factors, does not always end at five o’clock, but often remains constant. The work ethic needed to maintain deadlines is large, yet meeting those deadlines creates quite a feeling of accomplishment.
The amount of work also forces you to become more confident in your own work. The rapid pace of agencies puts a heavy burden on deadlines and calls for everyone’s work to be completed well. This is often a drastic change for students who have only experienced school. In the professional world, but especially in agencies, everyone else is extremely busy and does not have enough time in the day to complete their own work let alone walk you through every step of the process. Whether it is a pressrelease, a blog post, email and pitch construction, social media post, etc., there is a need for you to quickly create content, work hard and trust that you did it well.This was an intimidating aspect of this summer for me. I had published work with and without my name on it for a different company in the past, but there my deadlines were far more generous and I had a large number of people checking my work periodically. This summer, I was expected to put forth good work right away, and I could not be more grateful. Agency life also demands confidence in your co-workers – that they will be upfront with you and tell you when your work missed the mark. This leads me to my final point about the positive effects of agency life.
In agency life, and particularly at my summer internship, the average age of employees is rather young. In my office, I believe the median age is 25-26. This adds an element of relatability and friendship that bolsters the overall internship experience. Working alongside people in a similar age demographic adds to improved comfort levels and better collaboration in the office space, and in my opinion also creates a more enjoyable work environment. Thus making networking easier and enhancing the work/life balance. It also increases the learning process because your co-workers remember the feeling of being in your shoes and want to help you.
Prior to this summer I had a very limited interest in public relations agencies; however, the experiences that I have gained from my internship have changed me in ways that I have only begun to understand. I might be busy all day, but I can confidently say that I have never felt happier or more proud of what I am doing. This internship has not only taught me about myself and my work ethic, but it has also shown me more about the world. I firmly believe that everyone who wants to work in the public relations industry should begin at an agency.