Dear young POC professionals entering the communications world,
Welcome to agency! If you’re like me you might look around the room and there aren’t many people who look like you. I can’t say I know you, but I am one myself. So I wanted to shout us (us – as in a hugely diverse group of people) out and say hey, this is going to be fun.
According to the New York Times, research shows that feeling like an imposter can add to the mental stress some minority groups may already feel.
I know it can be intimidating to start in an environment where you’re unsure of whether you’ll be accepted. But I want you to know that everyone around you wants you to succeed, and you can do it.
Here are three tips to support your success:
1) Show up with an opinion. I found this difficult, because often I didn’t feel like I was steeped enough in the subject matter or the client’s business to make recommendations. What I learned is you should always put your best idea forward, because it’s easier for your colleagues to edit what you write than to write something completely from scratch. Even if you suggest something that doesn’t get followed through on, it may spark an amazing idea in someone else. It’s all a collaborative effort, and at the end of the day: You’re a consultant now. They’re paying you for your opinion.
2) Find a crew. Another key component to your success is building a cohort of fellow “junior staffers” to bounce ideas off of and to check your work before sending it through to the next person in the chain. This group of people will have your back and help you navigate the space by pooling knowledge and providing support.
3) Self-advocate. Throughout my internship I was told I had to learn how to brag about my accomplishments. This can be challenging when you feel like you don’t fit, but self-advocating is really important for your visibility, success and advancement. And you deserve the praise! Ask other people how they got comfortable sharing their accomplishments, and brainstorm some ways you can do this that works for you.
What I’m really trying to say is trust yourself. If you can share your confidence and talent with other people and be disciplined — you’re well on your way to reaching your goals.
P.S. There are also a million little tips I could share about this part of the working world. Here are two I think about every day:
1) Formatting is a big deal. Just as important as the content of your work is the professional appearance of the documents you make. When you were in school, you handed in an assignment and that was it. You were done. At an agency, if your work isn’t polished, you’re creating more work for the next person — or for your future self when it bounces back to you to fix. Everything you send through to review should be client ready. When you produce assignments for your teammates, pretend that they’re your client.
2) Google is always there for you. There’s a lot of jargon in an agency environment. If you ever don’t know what something is — like a type of document or an acronym — you can always Google search to quickly find examples and a definition to help you execute your project.