I haven’t blogged all summer and that’s not great! To make up for it, I’m going to make this a kick-ass comprehensive blog post. I’ll provide some insights about the first few months of my first real job and trying to achieve work-life balance, and hopefully how to translate my experiences into some tips.
Let’s start from the beginning: In my most recent blog post, the general sentiment was basically, “Yay, I got hired!” It was both extremely stressful and extremely exciting to accept an offer 2 days after graduation, but I was thrilled to be going back to the PR agency I interned with last summer. And because my start day was the first week of June, I had a few weeks of complete freedom to make the most of DC before moving to New York. This involved a lot of brunch and a lot of happy hour.
The first few weeks at my job were a whirlwind. I’m working as an Assistant Account Executive on the media team, specializing in beauty and consumer clients. Essentially, I work across multiple brands, securing media coverage, executing events, and basically filling in all the gaps. A few months into my job I was also placed on an account team for a new client, so I’ve been immersed in the experience of account management as well, doing a lot of research into the landscape of the industry, and (for the first time, really) client relations.
Both aspects of my job are very different and definitely fun. I love working on the media team, because seeing the coverage that results from your efforts is definitely a nice confirmation of your skills. It’s proof that you’ve succeeded in doing what you set out to do, and I love seeing that concretely. It makes me feel better about the less positive experiences - for example, tripping over my laptop cord at my very first client meeting in front of a room full of very important people. Speaking of which, here’s my first tip:
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’ve been at the agency for 3.5 months now, and it’s a weird mix of feeling like I’ve been here forever, and feeling like I just started. Like, just this week. Don’t feel guilty about needing to ask questions – you’re still learning. And most of the time, if you’re trying your hardest, things will go well. But sometimes they won’t, and sometimes you’ll get overwhelmed, and when you do it’s important to take a step back and remember that you’re new, you’re human, people make mistakes. As long as you handle everything professionally and come up with an action plan to show your manager that you understand the issue and you’re working to remedy it, don’t be too hard on yourself. Take night to unwind, reset, and move forward.
On a related note, the best piece of advice I received as an intern last summer and have since passed on to the agency’s new interns (PS- 7 of them got hired after the summer – so exciting!) is this: We’re not saving lives here. PR is a fast-paced, no-day-is-the-same industry. We hear that over and over. And while clients need things accomplished quickly and efficiently, we are not doctors, nobody is dying, and you need to breathe. Still do your work well and do it efficiently, but breathe.
Next up, a rundown of my typical day. “But there’s no typical day in PR!” you protest, as you’ve been trained to based on answers you’ve received during informational interviews. True, reader, very true. But still, there are many ongoing weekly/daily projects. As you’ll see:
6:15 AM – Wake up (to be fair, this is because I commute into the city. Once I move, I’ll be waking up at a human hour)
8:30 AM – Arrive at work. Make tea. Read The Skimm to catch up on the day’s news. Read through my emails.
9:00 AM – Distribute newspapers
11:00 AM – Compile an email filled with important news of the day and send it out to keep the agency up-to-date.
11:30 AM – Compile a list of the guests on major talk shows for the week to ensure our brand teams know if any of their spokespeople are on.
12:00 PM – Depending on the day, I’ll work some combination of updating/creating media lists, research, pitching, booking events or appointments with editors, filling product requests for magazines, tracking and saving our brand placements, etc.
2:00 PM – Weekly client call to get updates from the client and provide strategic guidance. As a junior team member it’s important that I take comprehensive notes and develop a list of next steps to keep the team organized.
4:00 PM – More tea (I’ve been coffee-free for around a year, so I live off of English Breakfast tea)
5:00 PM – Work on anything that has an EOD deadline that isn’t yet finished
6:15 PM – Head home!
Now, let’s talk a little about work-life balance. It’s basically a second job trying to figure out when you’re going to have a social life – sometimes. Especially with my commute, it’s not easy squeezing in happy hours, yoga, and catching up on Bachelor in Paradise during the week. I’ve found that devoting 2-3 days a week to fun post-work activities like catching up with friends is important maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it’s also crucial (for me, at least) to have the other 2-3 days to just eat dinner, take a shower, and go to bed early. Weekends are great for brunching, grocery shopping, and livin’ life.
How often should you be connected to work/work email after working hours and on your days off? Great question. There’s no right answer, and everyone reacts differently to this. But that’s a new topic for a new blog post.
Until next time, happy end of summer!