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Small Silver Linings

Nicole Haftel

When two Prosekians came to my media relations class in October 2019, I’d never heard of Prosek but was on the edge of my seat with every word. Their passion for problem-solving and learning was clear, and the challenge of working in financial communications sounded both exciting and fulfilling. Fast forward to January, and I found myself working in Prosek’s Boston office three days a week.

While I had some PR experience from past internships, I was in uncharted territory with zero experience in finance or professional services. Very quickly, I saw a camaraderie among everyone in the office and soon felt a part of it: we took walks to Star Market to pick up lunch, celebrated monthly office birthdays, went out for office happy hour, rang the “office triangle” for great work (my first shining, triangle-worthy moment was meticulously organizing the snack and supply cabinets), and so on. My last day in the office, I left directly for the airport to fly to LA for spring break and while there, the world seemingly changed overnight, and the firm had transitioned to work from home.

In May, I started interning full-time and in July, I transitioned to the Prosek Apprentice (PA) program. I’ve been with Prosek for just over six months and there are currently nine Prosek Apprentices and two interns all working from home across the US. Through all of our efforts to virtually connect – our bootcamps, the summer offsite, virtual happy hours and Zoom coffee dates – we had a realization: had we been in the office, we would not be experiencing this program and creating relationships with each other in the same way. While we would of course all participate in the same training and have similar work experiences, the Boston PAs would spend days getting lunch and taking walks to Star Market, and the New York PAs would be lunching together in Madison Square Park. We would have known each other, but likely would have bonded more with those in our respective offices, as the PA classes before us have.

This made me start to reflect on some other silver linings to this new normal. While in the office, I was on three teams and had only seen the faces of those I worked with in Boston: never had one of our internal calls been on video, and there were people I talked to weekly, if not almost daily, that I had never seen before. Shortly after we transitioned to remote work, our CEO Jen Prosek said on one of our weekly all hands calls that this situation made us all more human, and it’s a sentiment I think about often. Now, four months removed from the office, I think every one of us has seen our coworker’s, and even client’s, children, spouses, pets and homes. Joining a Zoom call with a Managing Director, as a PA, is much less intimidating when her children run up to the camera to say hi. If we were in the office, I might not have gotten the chance to see all of my coworkers, be part of virtual meetings, and feel as though we were all on equal footing in firm-wide discussions so soon. I feel like I know so much more about my coworkers’ lives now than I think I would have before, and it makes everyone feel more human. 

The work from home environment has also challenged me. Sitting at home at my laptop means that when I have a question, I can’t just pop over to someone’s desk for a minute. While Prosekians prize intellectual curiosity and thrive on asking smart questions, I think working remotely has forced us to be even more strategic and think further outside of our individual boxes – if something needs to get done and you can’t get in touch with the person who assigned the project, there’s no choice but to give it your best shot, or connect with another colleague who may be able to give you some pointers. Taking on new projects and types of assignments you haven’t tackled before when you’re alone in your bedroom can be scary, but it has definitely escalated my growth like never before.

There is nothing we can do to change this tumultuous environment, but what we can control, is the way we perceive and learn from it. Rather than wishing for what could have been, like a normal, in-person graduation and completing both my internship and the PA program in person, I’m trying to focus on these small, but significant changes that I otherwise would have never experienced. 

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