As a senior at Rutgers University, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do with my marketing degree. I had a general idea, but I still wanted to explore more of the different possibilities. So in January, I applied for and accepted a Public Relations internship at R&J Strategic Communications. I had no idea what PR was about, and I had never worked in an agency environment before.
When people think of working in a marketing agency, images of the show Mad Men pop into their heads. The assumption is that we all wear business professional clothing at all hours of the day and drink alcohol at our desks. During my time at R&J, I’ve learned that that’s definitely not the case. Though instead of alcohol I can guarantee that our Starbursts addiction is very real. For the past nine months, I’ve grown to see virtually all aspects of the marketing agency life; whether that be traditional PR, digital services, or social media efforts.
If you’re an aspiring marketing professional, here are 4 things I learned that could help you decide if this agency life is for you.
- PR does not just mean PR.
With the recent push for digital integration, it’s important to note that traditional marketing no longer stands on its own. I mean, take the R&J acquisition of Fifth Room Creative. There was that recognition of the growing need for digital and creative services. It matters how your website looks; it matters that you’re posting and interacting with your fans on social media; it matters that you have visual elements like a logo to share with your audience. While observing and working at R&J, all the work I was doing didn’t silo me into one category. Every day, I would work on drafting press releases, clipping and reporting media coverage, sitting in on client meetings, brainstorming content ideas for clients, assist in maintaining campaign email leads, creating content calendars, drafting social media posts, and so much more. Traditional and digital are so integrated at this point, it’s difficult to see one working without the other. If you’re looking to start in an entry level marketing position, be prepared to gain experience on both sides.
- It’s okay to ask questions.
When I first started working here, there were a lot of terms and lingo that I didn’t understand. What exactly is a media list? What about an editorial calendar? What the heck is a boilerplate? Everyone wants you to do the best work you can, and you can’t do that if you don’t know what you’re doing. So when in doubt, ask your questions. Chances are, you’ll look more foolish pretending to understand something instead of just asking.
- Intern, Schmintern. Whatever your title, your work is important.
This is something that I want to stress. Everything you do is important. The media list you create impacts what coverage an event or product gets. The reports and clipping that you strain over each month eventually gets printed out and is put in front of the client. Your social media posts that you draft, re-draft, and re-draft again gets posted right onto the client’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Everything you do has a direct impact on the agency and your client. There’s something super gratifying and amazing about seeing the final product of your hard work out there for the world to see. Without you, those tasks would never have been completed.
- You can make a difference.
Speak up and share your thoughts! You are in that meeting for a reason. You are at this company for a reason. You are valued and people do care about your opinion. Send someone your ideas! What do you have to lose?
It can get pretty hectic sometimes but that’s what I love about it. Problems can come up at 4:45pm on a Friday and it’s our job to use strategic thinking to come up with efficient solutions. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment with challenges and something different every day, then the agency life might be for you. R&J certainly taught me that.