In the first of what I hope will be many contributed posts, Nathan Strauss, a former student and the past GM of Allen Hall Public Relations talks about his first couple of months as an Assistant Account Executive at Edelman in New York.
Reflections of an AAE
Today is the last day of work for Edelman interns. As they begin to pack up their cubicles and eagerly chatter about returning to college, it sets in that I’m not leaving with them. At this time last summer, I too was an ambitious intern. Now, a full-time employee, I reflect on my transition and the career I’ve begun in public relations at Edelman in New York.
Fortunately, my transition from intern to AAE has been seamless. I credit this to my always attempting to work at least one level above my title – a golden rule in agency PR. As an intern I was always persistent in trying to get work that’s usually reserved for an AAE. Now, as an AAE, I’m managing vendor relationships for our satellite media tour as well as for an event at our client’s headquarters – AE or SAE stuff.
At times, it may seem there is little differentiation between interns and AAEs other than a nameplate; however, entry-level professionals must always remember that expectations are higher for them – in terms of the quality of their work as well as in the length of their working day.
While I’ve been able to excel at Edelman, there have also been challenges. Foremost, re-adjusting to the working world – 9+ hour days in an office is a difficult contrast to college life. Even more difficult are the slow days – where account work is few and far between. While in college nothing to do was a rare blessing; sitting idle in a cubicle is a different story.
When things are busy, it’s invigorating. The fast pace and short deadlines agencies are known for isn’t a myth. While this type of working environment is my preference, in my excitement I’ve made careless mistakes that reflect poorly on me – mistakes I won’t make twice. Quality is just as important, if not more so, on a short deadline.
- Be excited about what you do, for your own sake. Although mundane tasks like media monitoring may seem dull, keep the bigger picture in mind. Take pride in finding that breaking news story and being the first to send it out to your team. If you lose interest, not only will you be miserable, your team will lose interest in you.
- Listen, listen, listen. Take advantage of who sits around you. At Edelman, where even SVPs sit in cubicles, eavesdropping is not only valuable, it’s unavoidable. Listening to interactions with clients and other execs is always insightful.
- Image, while not everything, counts for something. This is PR, after all. Come to work looking professional and put-together, every day. Matthew Harrington, one of the most senior executives at Edelman, wears a suit to work every day – even on casual Fridays.
- Don’t go into debt. You’re not in college anymore; you should be paying off your loans, not incurring more debt. If you’ve chosen to move to cosmopolitan city (like New York) this can be difficult. While it may seem like spending 70% of your income on rent is reasonable, think twice. Stay in the black, even if it means you have to make sacrifices to your lifestyle.
You can reach Nathan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 704-4573