Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by Carli Thibodeaux for PRSSA at LSU.
With multiple clients and a variety of to-dos, life at a public relations agency can be chaotic and, at times, overwhelming.
Throughout the Public Relations Student Society of America’s 2013 National Conference, attendees were advised to have a mentor. Jessica Noonan, client executive at Burson-Marsteller, and Joe Clarkson, account coordinator at Taylor Strategy, are role models for students studying public relations and, in my opinion, would be awesome mentors. At PRSSA 2013 National Conference, Noonan and Clarkson led the breakout session “Juggling: Life at an Agency.”
When transitioning from student to full-time employee at an agency, one is guaranteed to be overwhelmed, according to Clarkson. But the takeaways from this session will help ease the transition for public relations students.
Have goals and get organized
Most public relations agencies offer clients a wide-range of services. Agency is not about being an expert, Clarkson said. It’s about knowing a little about a lot of things. Noonan and Clarkson suggest prioritizing what you want to learn.
Throughout your time at an agency, or any organization, keep in mind the business’ and your personal goals. The panel advised making your personal goals known to your supervisors.
Each day at an agency is different, so what happens when it becomes too much or crisis strikes? According to Clarkson, the most overwhelming time is when experience happens.
Be Human: Give yourself a break
Nobody is happy or efficient working around the clock all week long. Know what time and in what environment you work best. Noonan suggests having an outletto relieve work-related stress. For example, Noonan runs, while Clarkson enjoys playing volleyball.
Both Noonan and Clarkson advise students to take off the time they are given. If you are sick, take a sick day. If you are given two weeks of vacation, then find the time to go on vacation.
The panel stressed the importance of communicating with your supervisor. If you become overwhelmed, let him or her know you have a lot on your plate. Agency work involves collaboration, so there will be someone who can help; you and your team members will probably be more satisfied with the finished product.
Clarkson especially stressed the importance of networking, both inside and outside of your agency, and he encouraged each student to follow-up with students and professionals from the conference.
Working at an agency can be stressful, but it can be rewarding just as well. If you think an agency would be the right fit for you upon graduation, Clarkson suggests looking to gain experience in research and media relations.