How to Find the Right Agency

Tips for Narrowing Your Options

As one of Fahlgren Mortine’s internship coordinators, I can’t tell you how many students have told me they want to work for an agency once they graduate – and why wouldn’t they? Agencies provide young professionals a chance to experience many aspects of marketing and communications across diverse industries. Where else can you spend your morning doing crisis management, then your afternoon planning a fun-loving summer travel campaign for a hot tourism destination?

While deciding the path of an agency is one step of the imminent “real world” transition, you will find that agencies come in many shapes and sizes, cultures and statures. But, it’s not just about finding any agency, it’s about finding the right agency for you.

Here are some tips for narrowing your options, as well as some questions to ask during an interview to make sure an agency is the right fit:

Do you share similar goals? When talking with agency personnel, ask them what their company’s future looks like. Does their vision make you feel confident in working there? If you believe that integration is the future of the industry, consider looking for an agency heading in that direction. If you believe in an agency’s leadership strategy, your time there will be that much more rewarding.

Questions to ask in your interview:

  • What do you think this agency will look like in five years? Ten?
  • How do senior leaders communicate agency goals or strategies for growth with associates?

Is it a culture fit? I recently read that the average American will spend one-third of their lives at work. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, we can have a moment of silence for that seemingly depressing statistic. But, that number doesn’t have to be depressing. Yes, work is work, but if your agency believes in a culture that celebrates its employees and the work they do, you’ll find that one-third of your life can actually be spent learning and succeeding in a collaborative, thriving environment.

Questions to ask in your interview:

  • What’s the best part about working in this environment that I might not be able to see from just a walk around the office?
  • What’s the process for on-boarding employees, and how do you handle beginner mistakes?

Do the people share my values? A mentor of mine once told me that when a bomb is thrown into your lap, there are two types of people in the world: those who are going to plug their ears, duck and cover, hoping the barrage won’t affect them; and then there are those who will drop what they’re doing, run to your side and do anything they can to help diffuse the situation. I believe in the importance of teamwork, collaboration and trust, and am lucky to work for an agency that lives and breathes those same vales. If you believe in outside-of-the-box thinking, open communication policies, bring-your-dog-to-work-day, whatever, look for an agency that does too.

Questions to ask in your interview:

  • What are the qualities this agency values most?
  • How are the values reinforced among associates?

Job hunting can be an arduous task, but I’ve always believed the most important thing in finding the right agency is making sure they are a fit for you, just as much as you are for them. And take it from me, doing the research and asking the right questions will lead to a promising first step of your professional career.

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