January 9, 2017 | by Amanda Oberstein
As a college student, I have had the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in my classes to the real-world of marketing and communications through various internships. I have contributed at a larger agency with hundreds of employees and multiple locations and now at a smaller boutique firm. I have gained different experiences and insights from each opportunity, and see the positives and negatives of working at agencies on both ends of the spectrum.
I landed my first public relations internship at a big agency in New York City. We’re talking big– an entire floor in a NYC high rise with hundreds of people, lots of departments, and lots of resources. It was an incredible opportunity for someone like me to see how the PR industry operated and what my day-to-day life could look like at a large firm post-graduation. Although I was only there for a couple of months, I gained valuable insights and noticed specific things about the agency that I liked, and some that I wasn’t so fond of.
The most enjoyable aspect of my internship was the breadth of resources I could access. Because it is economically feasible for larger agencies to invest in high-priced software, I had access to a variety of online databases and tools that helped facilitate the completion of my tasks. I also benefitted from the way the agency was organized. It was arranged into specialized departments, and I had access to a variety of peers with unique expertise all within the same office.
In my three months as an intern, I noticed that in a large agency it takes a lot longer to get things accomplished because of complicated approval processes. In most cases there was a defined hierarchy of people to submit things to and oftentimes it took weeks for a content calendar, press release, or blog post to be approved.
My experience working at Bloom has been completely different than my time spent at the larger agency described above. The most glaringly obvious difference is the size. At Bloom, I work with a team of six other people between our Austin and Portland offices. Bloom’s intimate size fosters teamwork and makes it easier to collaborate and explore multiple points of view. Instead of having to search an entire floor to find the right person to speak to, I can simply turn to the person next to me or send a quick G-chat.
It is also a lot easier to be creative and implement innovative ideas at a smaller firm because there is less red tape surrounding every decision. When a project is completed, it is typically reviewed by 2-3 members of the team who give their notes and edits before it is sent to the client for final sign-off. The client is the ultimate decision maker in the approval process at all agencies, but at a smaller firm there is less time between the creation of a piece of content or an entire campaign and the actual execution.
The most valuable insight I have gathered from working at Bloom is how much effort it takes to run a successful business. Being a part of a small team has provided me with a front-row seat into how every decision is made within the agency. I have had the opportunity to listen in on important conversations and see how the entire process plays out– from strategy brainstorming, to objective creation, to tactic implementation. I would have never gained these insights into the day-to-day operations of the business if I had continued working at a large agency.
Working at different types of agencies has been a great opportunity for me. It has been extremely valuable for me, as student who is still trying to decide what my next move will be. Seeing both sides of the coin, I realize that there is a variety of different career paths I can go down all within the same industry.