By Zach Dugan – Director of Creative Production
Coming out of the hustle and bustle of State College, anywhere may seem a little slower in
comparison (bar New York). So when I moved out to Midland, Michigan, the pace was definitely an adjustment. Located right between the middle of nowhere, Midland is a small town that has been stretched out for miles. No more walking from my apartment on Beaver Ave. to McClanahans to get a sub, but rather a 5 minute drive to Subway.
The real adjustment however was in my work life. Working for a big corporation like Dow
Chemical is a real change from entertainment and agency. From the structured 8-5 work hours, to the approval process, to the “networking by the water cooler” which does exist, corporate life is different.
The key is to not immediately get discouraged. Your first couple of weeks will go by slowly. Your manager has to get used to your work style, as you have to get used to his. The workload will pick up and everyone will agree that work will come in “peaks and valleys.” Some days, you will have four meetings, a phone interview and articles and materials due. Other days, you will be sitting waiting for the articles you wrote the day before to be edited and other people to follow up with you. That is why, you must go out of your way to make sure you have multiple projects to keep you occupied during these “valleys.”
Another thing you must go out of your way to do is network. For this I have found two
approaches. You can either wander into different offices and introduce yourself, or you can set up meetings with the entire Public Affairs division over the course of several weeks. Take a guess which route I chose? If you picked the latter, well done; and while it may seem crazy, sitting down for 15-30 minutes to talk with different members of the staff really makes some good connections and broadens your view of the company.
Unlike an agency, many of these people have been working here for years and have had 6-7 different Public Affairs jobs at Dow. That is the difference in a big company; you get moved around every 3-4 years and take on a new role. So by meeting all of them, you see a large scope of the Public Affairs function. Plus, I schedule most of my meetings on days that I predict I will have “valleys” of work.
As far as the work I do have, corporate will definitely give you some great portfolio pieces. In my 3 weeks here so far, I have already written 2 communications plans, 4 newsline articles, completely redesigned the retiree survey and wrote enough advertising copy to fill a binder with.
So while Midland isn’t the most glamorous summer getaway, the work I am doing here is great, the people have a lot of knowledge to share and I have been able to experience the other type of PR they don’t focus on as much in class. Just remember, when going into a job, keep asking questions and for more work to do and everyone will see you as “a real go-getter,” even though you are just trying to stay occupied.