Lessons for my Apprentice Self
It’s intern season! And Prosek’s post-graduate Apprentice program is in full swing. We asked a few of our favorite former Apprentices from the summer of 2016 what advice they’d give their PA selves now, seven years later.
Kelly Whalen, Vice President, Boston
Absorb it all. At offsites and all-hands meetings when we were more junior, Jen Prosek and the partners often said that the person doing the daily scan is the most informed person on the account – a truth I didn’t appreciate at the time. In my role now, it’s incredibly helpful when a PA or another teammate flags a trending story our client may not be mentioned in, but should care about. I am consistently impressed when a teammate comes to me saying that they have been following a specific reporter or anchor so closely that they know exactly how to approach pitching them on behalf of a client.
If I could give my PA self some advice, I would say to absorb everything – read as many morning newsletters as you can, join all of the internal industry huddles to learn from our colleagues’ experiences, and keep the TV on while you work at a low volume to watch Bloomberg and CNBC. Not only will absorbing the news make you a smarter counselor, but it will open the door to really thoughtful media relations ideas and skills, and you never know when a responding to the news moment may strike.
Kearney Dewing, Vice President, Charleston
Put yourself out there. Say hello. You do not need to be the most extroverted person – you don’t really need to be extroverted at all – to say hi to someone you don’t know at Prosek. Introduce yourself and build out your network. Even before Covid, it was challenging and uncomfortable to work up the courage to walk up to a stranger at the firm and put out a hand. But in a post-Covid world, it’s even more important. I can promise that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by simply saying “I just wanted to introduce myself, I’m…”
Relationships at Prosek will make you successful. And meaningful ones will be the reason you stay. I’ve been encouraged to meet with prospective clients 1:1. I’ve attended four Prosek (soon to be five – looking at you, Sheila) weddings. I’ve traveled to Chicago, Philly, Orlando and Vegas for Stealth Surveys and conferences with coworkers that soon became close friends. I’ve spent long nights working on reports, and early mornings writing press releases and plans. I’ve guest lectured at Quinnipiac, BU and Bentley. I’ve won new business and lost clients. I’ve had amazing, motivating conversations, and have had a fair share of tough ones too. But the people you share these experiences with. The ones that encourage you to just keep going and remind you why you’re here. All of those start with a simple hello. (Even if that means accidentally introducing yourself to the waitstaff during the 2016 summer offsite at the Longshore hotel.)
Katherine Fox, Associate Vice President, New York
Build your peer network. When I joined Prosek, everyone told me to build my network and meet senior leaders at the firm. And while that’s very important, I also quickly learned the value of building your own peer network. Having relationships with those at your level can be so beneficial, because even if you’re not on the same accounts, these are the people that are going through the same things as you, and they can often offer support, suggestions or even just ideas on how to move forward. Your peers are the ones that truly understand what you’re going through day in and out, and will always be there to support you. I’m thankful everyday for the peer network I built as a PA!
Sarah Levine, Vice President, New York
“It’s PR, not the ER.” We are doing tons of important work for our clients that needs to be taken seriously. However, at the end of the day, it’s not life or death. It’s easy to get swept up in the fast-paced nature of our work (that’s what makes it fun sometimes!) and sometimes it can be stressful. I wish I had been more comfortable knowing that sometimes you will make a mistake or the results won’t come out the way you want them, and that’s okay. What’s important is moving forward, learning from it, and figuring out the next solution.
Sheila Kulik, Vice President, Boston
Don’t pretend you know everything already. When I joined Prosek as a PA, I had just graduated from college with a degree in communications. I had taken the classes and completed prior internships, but the reality was, that my first day at Prosek really opened my eyes to everything I didn’t yet know as a young professional starting my career. I was starting from the very beginning, despite being eager to prove myself as quickly as possible. As an Apprentice, I was learning new subject matter, new ways of doing things, new industries and new office lingo. Speaking up to my colleagues to tell them I was new to something, but eager to learn, opened the door to then feel comfortable asking them my most burning questions, from how a hedge fund works to how to effectively pitch a reporter by phone. They also encouraged me to spend my free time researching to build deeper understanding of my work. It’s been seven years and I still learn new things every day and it’s one of my favorite things about this job.
For more on Prosek’s Apprentice program, visit - https://www.prosek.com/join-our-team/post-graduate-apprentices/.