Above: Stratacomm interns Marla Mollenkamp (left) and Neha Nair (right) during a recent “Tacky Sweater” photo op.
A new year often evokes deep reflection. From the perspective of the two interns at Stratacomm’s D.C. office, this was a year of both great achievement and great uncertainty as we closed the chapter on college and began a new one in the professional world.
Fortunately, we were supported by a collaborative and energetic work culture that seriously helped ease this transition. Finding a professional environment with a work culture that suits you, especially right out of college, is well worth the effort. It’s understandable to feel vulnerable when being thrown into the job field. However, with the right fit, challenges become opportunities and wonderful learning experiences.
The atmosphere at Stratacomm taught us a very important lesson: Work culture can make or break your professional experience.
“Culture” is a popular buzzword, and Merriam-Webster even named it as 2014’s Word of the Year. As interns who haven’t yet been inundated by all the “buzz,” we have unique perspectives on how office culture facilitates positive work experiences.
The Value of Challenges
When immersed in the right culture, challenges are viewed as opportunities, not burdens. Seizing the opportunity to give a full briefing presentation to the firm’s partners the second week of our internship is just one example of the inclusive culture that motivates and encourages collaboration at all levels. Regardless of the level of difficulty, we’ve learned that every assignment is an opportunity to display our abilities, as well as receive invaluable guidance and experience. Feedback from those challenges only make us better.
Speaking Up Pays Dividends
A collaborative environment where each person’s opinion is valued equally is incredibly powerful. In one brainstorm, we rounded up some of our colleagues who were unfamiliar with the topic to help crowd source the best ideas. Being able to contribute to an idea that grew into a major component of a client’s campaign was very rewarding, especially as an intern. The fact that we had just as much influence in the process as anyone else is one of those intangible (yet critical) benefits of a positive office culture.
The first few years in the professional world can be the most formative in a career. Taking the time to find the right fit that will help you grow, learn, and most importantly, set you up for success as you begin your professional life.
Marla Mollenkamp and Neha Nair are interns in Stratacomm’s Washington, D.C. office.