Why Working for a Small Agency is Actually the Smartest Career Move
Everyone knows that agency work—while fast-paced and often demanding—is one of the best ways to soak up knowledge and experience in a burgeoning PR career—and these benefits are compounded when that agency is also a small business.
Sure, there’s something attractive and shiny about working for a giant, corporate PR agency in a skyscraper that cuts through the NYC skyline, but for those who have chosen to forego these antiseptic “bull pens” for the, perhaps, less impressive, small-business-style agencies, they’ve learned that you can actually get much further in your PR career—and get there faster—by starting off with smaller steps.
Here’s the top reasons why working for a small agency is the smartest career move:
Because even though you can try to pretend it’s not important—it is.
I have been working at Caster for almost two full years now, and even though my commute is kind of long (and I am certainly not a morning person!), I have never once dreaded coming into the office.
When you live the #officelife, let’s face it: You’re going to be spending more hours than you’d care to calculate at your desk, and, on a daily basis, you’ll likely see more of your co-workers than you do your friends and family. So, liking your work, liking your environment, and liking your co-workers? It’s a big deal.
While I’m lucky to work for an all-star office with an all-star team, many of the reasons why I love coming to work have to do with the office being small.
For one—I actually know my bosses. HR isn’t a frightening infrastructure with grouchy secretaries and intimidating paperwork—it’s someone with whom I regularly share a cup of tea in the kitchen and who I truly do feel comfortable going to for any kind of problem. And the CEO isn’t cloistered away from us “underlings” in a mythical corner office where they smoke cigars and avoid getting involved in the #MeToo movement. While the CEO’s office is undeniably beautiful, it’s also transparent (literally – it has a beautiful glass door and window) and always has an open-door, ask-me-a-question-as-a-mentor or take-fresh-vegetables-from-my-garden policy.
Bottom line: When you work in a small office, there are no policies, hierarchies, and scary Office-Space-style memos to hide behind. You get to be face-to-face with your co-workers every day—and they actually care about you.
A small agency means you get to rub elbows with the head-honchos.
One of the biggest gifts of working for a small agency is that you’re never just a cog in the machine, stuck doing mindless busy work with a bunch of other twenty-somethings who probably don’t even need to be on the payroll.
At Caster, I work directly with the Senior Vice President every day and actually share more projects with her than I do my direct peers. When you’re in a big agency, everything is siloed, and your opportunities for learning and growth are constricted by the specific laundry lists of responsibilities that showed up on your job description—but you’ll never find a stale to-do list at a small agency.
Sure, when you’re starting out your PR career (as in any career) and you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, you’re going to have to do some tedious tasks that might make you feel like giving up on an office career altogether and trying your hand at farming, but, like laundry and grocery shopping, this is a fact of life and something you’ll find in any job you turn to. But working for a small agency makes finding these moments few and far between, as even junior members of the team regularly contribute to big-business projects like SWOT interviews, writing, and on-site press meetings (business trips to Vegas or California, anyone?).
At any point in your life, you should be a sponge that’s looking to soak up as much new information and as many new experiences as you can, but this is especially true when you’re taking your first steps in your career. Working at a small agency gives you an average workday that’s saturated with one-on-one time with the senior staff, opportunities to jump on new projects, and real responsibilities that show you you’re capable of more than you think.
And I’ll take that over working in an NYC skyscraper any day.
Do you work for a small business—or want to? Hit me on Twitter @merryshoebell, and we can both be thankful that our work lives are nothing like an Office Space nightmare.