The COM NYC PR Agency Tour provides students a chance to gain first-hand exposure to alumni in the industry. The Tour gives students the opportunity to put a “face” to the agencies and to forge connections with potential employers, coworkers and mentors.
12 accepted seniors and graduate students, accompanied by Professor Justin Joseph and Professor Amy Shanler, traveled to New York City over spring break (March 6-8) to get an inside look into eight of the top global PR agencies. The first stop on the tour was Fleishman Hillard. Fueled on caffeine and adrenaline, the group of 12 participated in an informational session, featuring the history of the agency and its clients. The BU group listened to several employees from different departments and had the opportunity to ask questions about their scope of work, day-to-day operations, as well as their work/life balance.
The tour continued to the offices of Weber Shandwick and Jack Morton. On day two, the group visited Edelman, Burson-Marsteller and COHN & WOLFE. The last visits were to Ogilvy PR and Ketchum. Each of the agencies added a unique flare and provided the young to-be professionals with a different angle of the industry to think about.
The variation in corporate cultures was eye-opening for every student and gave everyone the ability to picture themselves at an agency. Emma McAdams (COM’17) commented that “It was a great way to really understand the personality of each agency in order to get an inside look on where I might belong.” The configuration of all the offices depicted the agencies’ culture. Cubicles versus open desks, colors versus stark white walls, clear doors vs patricians, noise and open communication versus silence and Lync messages? These may be considered small details in the grand scheme of an office. To prospective applicants, they left a lasting impression.
During each agency tour, students were invited to participate in a lively discussion as well as a Q&A. Two of the most frequently asked questions were: “What is the agency looking for in potential employees?” and “What makes them stay at their agency?” While most of the agencies offered similar responses, the answer that was incredibly revealing was “The people.” As one agency representative pointed out, “At a job in which you spend more time with your coworkers than with your significant others or roommates, it’s simply imperative to love who you work with.” The room started to chuckle with excitement and a dash of fear that this was the new normal.
The three-day trip ended with a COM alumni cocktail party in SoHo to network with industry alumni. These potential alumni mentors had the right balance of warmth and brutal honesty and were candid with their assessments on the lifestyle when starting out in the PR industry. Their comments solidified how well-prepared COM students are for the real world, which gave the current COM students confidence and reassurance. In a dark, loud and crowded room, in the heart of lower Manhattan, it was made clear that COM students are capable of anything they put their mind to.
Lauren is a senior in COM, majoring in public relations. When she isn’t creating Instagram captions for her friends, she can be found reading up on the latest industry crises or belting Broadway show tunes. A city girl at heart, Lauren plans to head back to the Big Apple and start her career in PR after graduation in May.