CK Insights is a series on our blog featuring CooperKatz team members’ perspectives on timely topics.
It’s graduation season once again, and many new grads are stepping out into the world for the first time and beginning their careers. We started reminiscing about this exciting and scary time and decided to ask CooperKatz team members to share advice, anecdotes and insights about what they wish they knew when they started their careers.
Melissa Connerton – VP & Director, Client Services:
Challenge yourself. Inspiration can come from many different, unexpected places. Be open to it. Some of my very favorite clients were in industries that were initially quite foreign to me. Not only was I able to learn about new sectors, but I have also been able to leverage that knowledge many times since then.
Anne Green – President & CEO:
In starting my career, I wish I’d known sooner all the things I didn’t yet know. Which means that when you’re just starting out, you naturally lack a lot in the way of context – something that accrues with time and widened work experiences. I often say it’s a bit like peering through a slice of Swiss cheese. You get a partial view through the holes. But the big picture can be obscured.
Over time, I learned to ask myself a simple but essential question: “What might I be missing here?” And I also learned the habit of (nicely) interrogating those around me, and especially above me, to piece together whatever context I’d not yet gathered myself. This is a work and life lesson I still reflect on now, especially given the changeable nature of today's business environment.
Katy Hendricks – Manager, Client Services:
I was always thinking about "what's next," both in my career and in the industry. Now I realize that life moves fast in New York City, and even faster in PR. I would tell my 22-year-old self to live in the moment, and appreciate what you are learning along the way. This clarity is what turns ambition into innovation.
Ralph Katz – Co-Founder, Principal:
Remember every so often to stop and smell the roses. Early on, I was the type that took the night flight to some of the most exotic spots in the world, started meetings the morning I arrived, worked for two days and left the following evening. I rarely experienced the place I was visiting.
About mid-career, I began working with an older and clearly wiser colleague who took a look at one of my schedules and firmly suggested that with as hard as we work, we should take advantage of the interesting places and interesting people we meet along the way.
Allow some down time to be sharper in meetings, tie a vacation day to a trip, take someone you are meeting to a place they find of interest. Ever since, planning my travel schedules more reasonably as often as possible has added an additional layer of nuance and enjoyment to a career I already love.
Dana Schwartz – Account Executive:
Take some time to listen and learn as much as you can from your colleagues. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, share your thoughts or ask to take on a new project. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s never too early to be a valuable team member.
Annik Spencer – Account Coordinator:
Calling the media is not as scary as you think! After a few months of working at CooperKatz, my mentors in the office gave me some useful advice that helped lessen my fears. They told me to simply pitch at my desk, as opposed to stepping away into a pitch room with a closed door, and to speak like I was talking to a friend. These two small pieces of advice helped me tremendously. While I’ve only been out of college and in my first PR career for 11 months, I’ve become much more comfortable speaking with reporters on a daily basis.
Meredith Topalanchik – SVP, Director, Client Services:
Don’t underestimate how important it is to LIKE where you work and your coworkers. We put in long hours in PR and liking where you work and who you work with is just as important as what you are doing.
Jenni Walton – Coordinator, Finance and Operations:
Choosing a career path at a young age can be a very daunting decision. It is important to remember, the first job is just the beginning of a lifetime of careers. With the average person in the work force for 40-45 years, there is plenty of time to take time.
Follow CooperKatz on social media for PR / marketing insights and client & company news.