If there is anything all small town college students have in common, it’s the phrase “I go to so-and-so school. You probably haven’t heard of it though. It’s very small.” Georgia College in Milledgeville has had its share of successful graduates - That Working Girl’s very own Lindsay Shoemake gets mentioned a lot when myself and others think about the success that this school has brought about! There is a lot of hope and opportunity that seems abundant even if a recruiter needs to look up where your college’s town is on a map. However, no one really tells you about the amount of intimidation and fear you will experience once you aren’t studying at a tiny school but working in a big workplace.
My big agency experience has come about with my amazing opportunity of getting an internship at 22squared, an advertising agency in Atlanta. When I say big, I mean I got a sign on my desk saying I’ve “gained about 300 new friends.” I don’t think I even had 300 people in my major when I graduated. Actually, I KNOW I didn’t.
So with this huge transition, here is the truth I’ve found about moving to big agency life.
My desk on the first day.
You will feel like everyone went to a big, well-known school except you. (It won’t matter.) The amount of University of Georgia or Georgia Tech graduates is astounding. When I tell someone “I went to Georgia College,” I am not expecting them to answer with “Go Bobcats!” I’m just not. However, I have stopped adding the “you probably haven’t heard of it” to the conversation when discussing my alma mater. My school has great professors who know their stuff and give you quality opportunities. Graduates have gone on to work at Porshe, Edelman, and GE. In fact, Nicole Field, a media planner at 22squared, is another alumna who has left a legacy at GC. “I went to Georgia College with Nicole” has gotten me a lot of head nods. Although small, my school is mighty.
You will fear being overlooked in the workplace. (You won’t be.) One of the main reasons I didn’t want to go to a bigger school was because I was afraid I would be lost in the crowd. The same fear came to mind with my excitement about having a large, energetic workplace. However, 22squared laid those fears to rest the first day when the interns had lunch with the executives. Those same executives who see me in the hallway a month later smile and ask me how I am. I feel more welcome and in a family with my co-workers than I felt in some of my smaller classes at school.
All the interns try to eat lunch together everyday. We take up the big table.
You will think your work won’t have any impact in the big picture. (It definitely does.) Having five people on a campaigns team means that everyone has a piece (a usually pretty big piece) of the puzzle responsibility. Well, this isn’t a campaigns class anymore, and now there can be more than fifteen people working on the same client project as you. After writing some reporting insights, I thought this would only be shown to the inner workings of my department. WRONG. The whole team eventually saw it, and there were talks of sending it to the client. Good thing my quality knowledge from my little school gave me the experience of completing tasks intended for the most important contact.
Once I started in mass communication, my dream was to venture into the world of big agency life. After only being in one for a little over a month, I can confidently say I don’t think I could choose anything else. More people mean more opportunities to learn and connect. With a company like mine who is very conscious about culture and a healthy work-life balance, I now see why about 300 people have chosen this life as well.