First day jitters are real. New employees frequently experience a mixed bag of emotions when they start a job, ranging from excitement to anxious anticipation. Often, those embarking on a career in public relations, especially those joining an agency, have added challenges, too, as it’s not only important to blend in with your new team, but also form a solid working relationship with clients. So how do you navigate your first day at work as a PR newbie?
Heather Fox is a senior account manager at Catalyst, a division of Endeavor Global Marketing, based in New York City. It’s an award-winning agency with a number of national and global clients in a variety of industries. Fox has been with this agency for over eight years, and has steadily risen through the ranks, from her entry-level internship to her current senior-level position. Today, as a seasoned pro, she enjoys assisting new co-workers as they become acclimated to the agency world, and offers some tips for getting up to speed on the first day of work.
1. Stand out and fit in
Fox suggests, “This may seem trivial to some, but I always recommend over-dressing on your first day, even if you know the office has a casual dress code. Really think about how you are presenting yourself. It’s the first time you will be making an impression on your new co-workers and you want it to be a positive one.”
2. Be proactive
Fox points out that it’s essential to be proactive from the very beginning. She says, “Agency environments are often busy and your co-workers may be pulled in a lot of different directions. So, when you arrive at a new office, it’s a good idea to set up 20-minute meetings with as many people as you can. You can even meet co-workers for a quick coffee or lunch where you can ask questions and get to know them a bit. And don’t be shy about reaching out to those outside of your core account team, because meeting people will always help you in the long-run.”
3. Do your research
Fox also mentioned that doing some extra research in advance is always beneficial. “You will probably be briefed on the clients, but it’s always good to have a general baseline knowledge about a brand’s recent program or big launch that the agency team has spearheaded.”
4. Learn the culture
Agency life is often synonymous with hectic projects, deadlines and late hours. For someone new to the industry, this may present a learning curve. Fox said, “It’s necessary to come in with an open mind and understanding of what agency life is. Above all, we are here to service our clients. When you start a new job, you should be thinking ‘this is a fresh opportunity for me. When I walk in the door, I’m going to get everything I need to get finished in a timely and efficient manner.’ ”
She added, “Depending on the culture of the agency, you may have opportunities to work from home on occasion or leave early. But don’t assume this is true, especially in the beginning. I’m lucky enough to work at an agency that values work-life balance, and it’s better for everyone.”
5. Be personable
Client meetings are also critical for making a first impression. In addition to dressing well, she suggests being friendly and approachable. “Don’t be afraid to share some anecdotes or personal information about your life with your clients once in a while. When you talk about small details, like your family, pets or hobbies, that’s when the relationship goes to a deeper level. And that’s also the key to long-time client relationships,” she said.
6. Be a team player
Often, the extremely collaborative nature of an agency is different from a corporate environment, and may be an adjustment to recent college graduates. Fox points out, “In the agency world, your entire day-to-day structure and your success is based on your team. Agencies often have brainstorming sessions and invite anyone to join. I highly recommend attending, showing enthusiasm and offering ideas.”
She added, “After all, we’re all in this together. Collaboration is what agency life is all about.”