I hate clichés, but I’m going to start with one. Working at an agency, there really is not a typical day. A lot of people say that, but I genuinely mean it because agency life, although sometimes stressful, is so unique.
That said, I don’t want to talk about just one “day in the life,” but three totally unique days.
First, of course, we have days full of research, calls, client work and requests, plus whatever crisis might appear in the middle of the day— which then throws your meticulously crafted schedule into chaos.
Then there are days that client events take up every waking minute. It’s a thrill and a rush — and then there’s a reception afterward (one of my favorite parts of public relations). All of this is accomplished without falling asleep. All-day and “always on” events are generally awesome because you see the results of your hard work leading up to the event. You’re exhausted (and should be), but if you and the client are happy then it’s all worth it.
Finally, there is the weekend (rejoice!)…until there isn’t. If you end up working at an agency then be prepared to work sporadically on the weekends. Generally if you get your work done during the week, it’s not necessary. But, every once in a while, a crisis will unexpectedly appear and that crisis has no regard for your weekend plans. Prime example: one Saturday I went for a morning run, did my usual routine and went to a beer festival during the day. Then duty called that Saturday night. But, again, the client was extremely pleased with the work and my team and supervisor appreciated that I was a team player, especially on a Saturday evening.
I think the biggest lesson learned thus far is to be prepared for anything that may come your way, particularly in agency life. It’s about how you react — and how you keep moving forward. Many students think they want to work at an agency because it sounds so “cool,” but often you won’t know what you are getting into until you actually do it. Internships before full-time jobs always help so try those before committing to a full-time position.
Other new pros: Have you had similar agency experiences? Let us know in the comments.
Mike DeFilippis is an Assistant Project Manager at Direct Impact, a wholly owned subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller and a member of the WPP family that specializes in grassroots mobilization and outreach. He is also the mentorship chair on the PRSA New Professionals executive committee. You can find him running the streets of Washington, D.C., listening to country music and on Twitter @mgflip.