26 Sep Mission (I’m)possible: Finding the Perfect First Job
Looking for a job right out of college is as terrifying as it is exciting. In my experience, I was overcome with joy over the fact that, after almost 20 years, I was going to (finally) be an “adult.” But, I was also terrified that I would end up at a company that didn’t value me.
Thankfully, my college internship showed me first-hand the importance of a good corporate culture. That experience put me on a mission to find an agency that fit those same values. In every interview, my first question was always “What is your company culture like?” or “What are your corporate values?” The answer I received at SpeakerBox really stuck with me, leading me to say “yes” to the job.
A few months later, it’s become evident that I made the right choice, since my first job at SpeakerBox has turned into everything people told me it wouldn’t be. During my job search adults would often tell me that my first job wouldn’t be fun or that I wouldn’t be working on things that I enjoyed. Most people saw their first job merely as a way to get their foot in the door and put something on their resume to build on their career.
Those people were wrong and I’m glad I didn’t settle into the first place that offered me a position. Instead of having anxiety over the unknown, I wake up excited to learn, grow and be inspired by the people around me. My managers give me room to grow and invest in me. Yes, the work is hard, but our office is filled with the care we have for each other and a dedication to making the environment fun.
As someone new to the PR workforce, I’d like to share a few things that I’ve learned over the past few months and offer some advice to those who may be seeking their first — or second, or third, or fourth, or whatever — public relations job.
Choose a company that invests in your professional growth
Whether you have internship experience or not, PR is hard work. You might struggle to learn the in and outs of your agency and clients while finding workload management a challenge.
Working with a great management team that’s committed to helping you learn and grow can make or break a job. Meeting weekly with your manager to work on your strengths and weaknesses, or to talk about life and how you’re feeling, is vital to your success. The right manager won’t ever make you feel like you’re drowning.
Choosing a position at a company with a solid team of professionals and peers is also important. Surround yourself with a plethora of knowledgeable professionals in the field and use their expertise to help guide you. Most agencies, like SpeakerBox, will encourage you to expand your skill set through seminars, trainings, networking, and other resources. In fact, I have never been made to feel like I should have already known something, and people are always willing to be patient and teach me new things.
Finally, if you’re going for your first job, make sure it’s not just filled with administrative tasks. At SpeakerBox I have the opportunity to go to workshops, write press releases and blogs (like this one!), and do many other things that both help our clients and allow me to grow my skills every day.
Choose a company where everyone cares about each other and their community
When a company has the right culture and values people will always be around to raise their hand and help you out. To me, it was important to find a company where my co-workers felt like friends and mentors. Yes, I wanted to be in a place where I could ask questions and people could help me understand the big picture, but I’ve come to realize that small gestures are also important: recognizing each others’ hard-work or celebrating birthdays, for example, or getting an email from everyone in the office when you’re out sick.
Supporting the outside world is important, too. At SpeakerBox, caring extends past our four walls and into our local community. From sponsoring a 5K with Food for Others to our backpack drive, where we donated school supplies to local kids, there’s always something new our office is doing to help others. Working at a company that heavily invests in the outside community makes you feel good about yourself and the kind of people you work with, and makes you proud to work there.
Choose a place where everyone — not just you — is always learning
Just because you’re the new kid on the block doesn’t mean you should feel like you are the only one that’s constantly learning or that you don’t have good ideas. I’ve seen people who have been in the industry for years learn something new every day. I’ve even had people ask me questions, and that can feel humbling. When there’s an atmosphere of constant learning and collaboration within your first job, there’s a high chance you will feel more compelled to throw out new ideas and help both the agency and your clients. There’s never a moment at SpeakerBox where I have felt defined by my job title or my experience, instead, my co-workers have empowered me with the tools to grow and join them.
Overall, this experience has taught me one valuable lesson: don’t settle for your first job, despite the number of times people will tell you to just say “yes” to the first one that comes along. By not settling you’re more likely to select a company that’s willing to invest just as much time in you as you are to it.