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I empathize with 2020 and 2021 college graduates entering today’s job market. COVID-19 is changing the way businesses operate in the short term of course, but the long term impact remains unclear.

I graduated in 2009 (shout out to Lake Forest College) and the economy wasn’t in a great place due to the 2008 recession. Entry-level jobs were few and far between, especially with public  relations (PR) agencies. Even though I had several internships during my college tenure, the primary option for me was to start as an intern and do my best to become indispensable in order to get a full-time offer. Thankfully that story ends well and I did just that!

I recently spoke with a class of seniors at The University of San Francisco about the job market, life in a PR agency setting and which type of agency may be best for individual personalities. Is a big agency more suited for you where you’re interested in working on global brands, flexibility in the city you may want to work in and a large pool of professionals for you to learn from? Or maybe a boutique agency is right for you where you work in smaller, more intimate teams, have the opportunity for more professional development and receive more competitive pay.

I started in a big agency environment for the first three and a half years of my career. I then switched to small agencies where I’ve been ever since. There is no right answer, it really all depends on what you value for your first position right out of college. 

Take a look at my presentation (where the professor, Fay Chen and her students have so generously allowed me to share!) where I outline the pros and cons of big agency versus small agency in the most objective way possible. I also outline how to assess which one is right and what are some things to look out for to ensure the agency you’re going after is a culture fit.

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If you’re interested in a career in PR or you have a comment or question about my talk, don’t hesitate to comment here and start a dialogue with me!

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