As a recent graduate, to say the next step in life is overwhelming is an understatement. Not only are there huge decisions to be made, but everyone thinks they know what’s best and doesn’t hesitate to voice their opinion. However, it’s an exciting time due to all the opportunities that come with graduating with a degree in public relations. Within the communication field, there’s a multitude of pathways one can follow. There are large corporate agencies, small independent agencies, boutique agencies and agencies that are integrated with marketing or advertising. There is also in-house work or public affairs communication. While it’s great to have options, finding the right fit can be stressful without experiencing a workplace firsthand.
During my job search, most of my focus was on company culture. Although I interviewed for a wide array of PR jobs, nothing seemed as enjoyable as my time at Hope-Beckham. I decided I would rather enjoy going to work every day than make a larger salary or have flashy perks. When the choice came down to a small independent agency or a large corporate one, the choice was simple for several reasons.
Coworkers…quality over quantity. Being a small team, we work quickly, closely and effectively. Details don’t get lost in translation, which can be a major problem when working with a large team. There’s also the issue of having “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Additionally, everyone knows their roles, responsibilities and capabilities. My co-workers and I are aware of the strengths we all have to offer and therefore can capitalize on the talent that exists within the agency. It’s the small agency atmosphere that allows one to get to know their team inside and out.
More face-time with your boss. Top management is much more accessible at a small agency. This allows for involvement in new business activities, learning from the best in the business and openness to new ideas. All of us at Hope-Beckham at every level can interact with the founders of the company daily. Brainstorm sessions are especially unique in a small agency setting. All levels participate and even as an intern you are encouraged to actively contribute.
Freedom. At a small agency, there aren’t corporate policies that must be strictly followed. The needs of its employees and what fits each individual’s situation are what shapes office policy. Working so closely, it’s understood that work-life balance is important and that everyone has a life outside of the office. The laid-back atmosphere is a definite plus and has made the transition from college student to full-time employee a breeze.
Experience. Fewer people means more work per person, but not necessarily in a negative way. A consolidated workforce just indicates that multiple hats must be worn by all team members. It’s expected that everyone has their hands in a bit of everything. From an entry level standpoint, this is honestly the best way to learn the ropes. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is how to manage myself and work on my own projects, which would’ve taken years to achieve that level of freedom at a larger agency. It’s a big responsibility but is an opportunity made possible by a culture of trust that has been built at HBI.
After hearing entry-level job horror stories from friends and colleagues, I’m thankful I took these advantages into account when deciding which direction of public relations to choose. One can be blindsided by less important aspects than company culture when job-hunting. Overall, I feel incredibly lucky that Hope-Beckham gave me my first “big girl” job. Much of that is accredited to it being a small, independent agency with an incredibly talented team that work both as individuals and as one moving part.