By Brittany Kaelin, Account Coordinator
Fresh out of school and into this fast-paced place they call the “real world,” I have faced a learning curve for which I was unprepared. Back in my “glory days,” I worried about making it to class and acing the exams that would determine my grade.
With a degree from Purdue University (Boiler up!) in public relations and strategic communications, I thought I would be golden to enter agency life and rock the young PR professional lifestyle. As I quickly found out, my education gave me a good foundation, but there was still so much more I needed to learn.
After four months at an agency, I have identified five facts of life that were not mentioned during those weekly power-hour lectures. No offense to my beloved alma mater, but this is what I wish my professors would have covered in COM 100.
- Agency life is fast-paced.
When you work at an agency, you find out how fast your feet can move. There will be times when you will be bouncing around not only the whole office but throughout the whole city. Whether it’s organizing a big event or shooting a commercial, you learn very quickly how important it is to deliver a quality product on a short deadline.
- The way you were taught to write a press release is not a universal template.
Headline, lead, quote, pyramid style and boilerplate. There’s not much to a press release, but there are about 20 different ways to write one. Like I said, college gives you a good foundation. But at an agency, always make sure to find an old press release and copy its writing style and format before you send your first draft to your manager.
- No question is a dumb one.
When you are thrown into the exciting world of advertising and PR, you have to be willing to take in as much knowledge as you can. Everything is a learning opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask to sit in on a client meeting or for more details on a project. It’s better to do it right the first time than to keep making revisions.
- You won’t be writing eight-page papers.
For some reason, professors believe you’ll be writing eight-page research papers once you exit college. They have one thing right: Writing is very important in this industry. However, “short and sweet” is usually the key when you write. There will be times when you will write longer documents, but they will be about projects you are invested in. The best thing is there are no works to be cited at the end of a document!
- Be willing and able to work long days.
Long days go along with the fast-paced lifestyle. There will be days when you have to be up with your game face on by 8 a.m. and you won’t plop down on your bed until after 9 p.m. Even though that may seem like a long time, those days fly by and are usually the most rewarding. It always feels good to see your hard work in the final package.
The main takeaway I can offer as I adjust to life as a rock star young professional is to be proactive and take ownership of your work. No one will hold your hand, but they will usually take time to answer your questions. Put your best foot forward and always take a stab at working on something you’ve never done before. You may surprise yourself. Every challenge is an opportunity to improve your wealth of knowledge.
Bottom line: It’s like you never graduated. Every day you’re still learning, and sometimes you’ll have homework. However, there won’t be any pop quizzes!