I’m going to be honest, it’s been a week. And now at 6 p.m. on Friday, I’m still tying up loose ends when I’d rather be settling into a glass of vino. But you know what? That’s OK.
Earlier this week, I met with two college students who are currently interning at a local media outlet to “lend some advice.” It hasn’t been that long since I was in their shoes so was excited for the opportunity. While there is a lot you learn through a liberal arts education, I’m not 100 percent sure it preps you for what exactly awaits in the “real world.”
During our coffee chat, one of the students asked what I do to protect myself from burnout. Good question – and not always easy to answer.
It’s no secret that burnout is a concern within the agency world. Long hours, demanding clients (love you, guys!) and tight deadlines contribute to agency workers feeling overworked and tired. At Sabo PR, our founder and president, Mary Ann, has worked hard to build a culture that isn’t the agency hell you read about, but it still is demanding.
I think it’s rarely helpful to receive overly sugarcoated advice, so wanted to answer truthfully. I said it starts with loving what you do.
We spend more time at the office than you do with your family so enjoying what you do – and whom you do it with – is vital in building your career. When we consider hiring someone at SPR, we give him or her the “eight-hour test.” Mainly, would we want to sit in a room with this person for eight hours? We’re committed to going the extra mile to deliver exceptional results that help clients achieve their goals. And sometimes, that means long hours or missed meals with family and friends. If you love what you do, putting in the extra time is a no-brainer. But you have to want to do it – otherwise you’re just dragging yourself, and those around you, down.
I also shared the importance of being present. Nowadays, we’re all so connected, which has lead to greater efficiency, stronger connections with people across the globe and increased information sharing. But there is a danger of being too connected. When you’re not at work, you have to be engaged and “in the moment” wherever you are. Not diluting the precious time you have with loved ones with texts and tweets will give you the shot of friendship we all need.
And sometimes, you just have to suck it up and do what you got to do. Life isn’t going to always be a spectacular walk in the park and you will have days (sometimes weeks, months and years) that are challenging. Having drive and determination to look beyond that challenge is vital in building a career in PR – and it’s not for everyone, which is OK.
I shared a story when we were recently helping a client through a difficult situation. After a bit of a contentious meeting, the client said that all she could think about all week was how glad she was to have us in her corner.
At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
We don’t live in a fairytale; we live in life – it’s messy, complicated, stressful, demanding, exhilarating and wonderful. Learning to just embrace it all is how you make it work.