It was my 22nd birthday when I stepped into Waggener Edstrom for my first interview. I left my apartment early that day and got to Bellevue at about 8:15 for my 9 a.m. interview. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t show up too early to an interview because people will think you are weird, and you will sweat a lot, so I found a parking lot nearby and pulled out a newspaper. Somebody told me that I need to read the paper because I could be asked about it, and I had better know the big stories of the day.
I read the comics.
My Marmaduke reference must have worked because I started about a month later as an account coordinator. I shaved my beard because I thought you couldn’t have an office job and a beard at the same time. I also thought I already knew a thing or two about PR from a class I took in college and, although the job would be tough, I’d figure it out in a few weeks.
I think any PR person with an iota of self-awareness probably went through a period where he thought he was the dumbest person on Earth. Every day, I thought of new ways I was going to get fired. That email with the typo? Fired. That missed citation in your coverage report? Fired. One time, I replied to a reporter with the entire internal string attached.
Instead, my manager and my team worked with me to get better. There were countless late nights writing coverage reports and eating Seastar edamame for dinner. Email reviews and revisions. And a few more revisions. And, wait, just a couple more edits.
I started making less mistakes. I learned (and continue to learn) from the best in the industry. I’ve traveled across the country to launch products and attend conferences (and even hang with gators). I’ve made many friends now scattered across the world. I’ve been to cool places at Microsoft that even employees aren’t allowed to see. I’ve met clients who I’m pretty sure will invent time travel — or at least a cool wall.
I heard somewhere that people in their 20s are supposed to change jobs every two years, so that was my plan. But I discovered that Waggener Edstrom is a place where I can build a well-rounded career. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s brutally tough sometimes. But I don’t want an easy job. I’m doing something I can be proud of, with amazing people, at a company that is doing awesome things. And the fringe benefits are great, too. I can wear jeans pretty much every day. I have more vacation time than any of my friends. Free Diet Cherry Coke floods the fridge every few months.
They even let me grow a beard.