Happy Sunday! How are you? I’m cool, on Spring break, shooting the breeze, in NEW YORK CITY!!!!
Anyway, I was recently poking around a few Linkedin groups for entry-level PR pros (way to spend a Spring break, huh?) and I saw a question that really interested me: should I go for agency experience after I graduate? I thought long and hard about this and did a lot of google searches and I wanted to tip in my 2 cents:
Yes, I think agency experience is a good thing, and here are a few reasons why:
- In an agency, you are exposed to a wider variety of clients and accounts, you can get your feet wet across a few industries and see what you like best. Very few of us know where we want to be straight out of college (I know I don’t!) and an agency, while usually sticking to one industry (say lifestyle, tech or health care) will have different segments within that industry. So you work at a healthcare agency; one of your clients may be a hospital, another may be a catheter supplier (I’m sorry one of the adverts just came on) and another may be a health watch-dog group! See? You are really getting exposed to a lot of different clients and exposure is good!
- You gain skills and experience. Fast. Like really, really fast. If you have ever stepped foot in an agency, I’m sure you’ve noticed how fast-paced it is, personally, that’s the reason I love PR as much as I do. When you start as an AC (account coordinator) in an agency, you are thrown right in the lion’s den. Accounts need working and you need to hit the ground running. Those first few weeks/months/years are like on the job paid training; you will learn a lot and your writing, skill set, communication skills, etc. will flourish. An agency will really sharpen you into a fine PR weapon…like an AK-47, that writes press releases (and isn’t endorsed by the NRA).
- Not very many in-house positions are made for entry-level pros. The fact is, if you look around at in-house position announcements, they ask for 2-3 years of agency experience. So chances are, unless you know somebody or you get a big break, then you’ll need that agency experience before you can start looking for in-house positions. Like the previous point I made, companies are looking for people who have been in the PR “battlefield” AKA the agency, these people are experienced, trained and talented (most of the time) and can get the job done. So if in-house is your ultimate destination, an agency for the 1st year or 2 is probably your best bet.
This isn’t to say we will ALL end up at an agency; some of us will go the non-profit route, or the public affairs route, or the start-up route or one of you will be the one to find the unicorn: an entry-level position at a company for PR. Either way, you’ve got choices, but I think an agency is a good choice to think about.
Until next time LIVE FROM NEW YORK CITY IT’S SATURDAY NIG–
XOXOXO, Jess AsPRing