Expectations and Realities of working in a PR agency (from an intern’s POV)

It was daunting, entering an industry that I had next to zero knowledge about. I was a sociology graduate, you see, fresh out of university and looking to explore opportunities. A friend recommended Mutant ‘I’ll try,’ I told her. Three weeks later, I found myself on my first day of work at the communications agency, exchanging pleasantries with my new co-workers. I had so many questions. How will I fare? What will it be like? Most of all, will I enjoy my time there? 

As my internship at Mutant draws to a close, I thought I’ll break down my initial expectations and compare them to what I actually experienced. Hopefully, it’ll reassure and help encourage some of you to take a step outside of your comfort zone. 

Expectation: My co-workers will be too busy to guide me or provide feedback. 

Reality: Just because I’m an intern, doesn’t mean I’m not important to the team or my ideas are not valued I learned PR thrives on creativity and that fresh perspectives are always welcomed. With every task I completed, I was given feedback and constructive criticism – this allowed me to better understand my weaknesses and how to transform them into strengths. As the PR industry is extremely detail-oriented, it was great to have a group of individuals willing to share recommendations and give pointers, not only with me, but with one another, too. 

Working in a PR agency is akin to working on one huge project, everyone is extremely collaborative and communicative to get deliverables out the door. 

Expectation: I’ll have to work long hours and will have little to no work-life balance. 

Reality: While I did stay late occasionally, I was never burning the midnight oil – ‘late’ meant staying about an hour later than usual. I could always finish checking my to-do list for the day as we had a system of collaboration anyone could sound off if they felt that they needed help in a particular task or meeting a deadline.

At Mutant, there’s an emphasis on work-life balance; we work hard, but play harder. For the past two months I’ve been here, we’ve had a BBQ night, a games night, countless of doughnut and panipuri parties and even a mahjong night! I still remember during one of my first days with Mutant, Matt, our director, shoo-ed me off at 6pm and told me to and I quote “go have a life!”

Expectation: I’ll spend my days doing the same menial work.

Reality: Initially, I did spend my time on simpler tasks like tracking media coverage and creating media lists. But as I became more comfortable with how Mutant works, I was slowly introduced to crafting reports and social content, researching influencers and pitching to local media. In the midst of all that, I learnt the PR industry is constantly changing – it became evident when no two work days were the same. Clients often have differing expectations and I had to be ready to embrace change and willing to try new projects that I had no prior experience in doing. 

Expectation: The learning curve will be steep. 

Reality: I mean, duh. It was and still is, there’s still so much more that I look forward to learning. Initially, it took me awhile to adjust to the line of thinking required for PR work you have to be extremely meticulous and focus on minute details in order to be an effective communicator. What took someone an hour to do often took two hours of my time, but practice makes perfect, right?.  I’ll get there – slowly, but surely. 

I’m so incredibly glad I accepted my friend’s suggestion to apply to Mutant and grateful they extended me the opportunity to intern. I’ve never been surrounded by a more hardworking and fun-loving group of individuals (including the resident office dog, Muffin). I’ve gained so much with Mutant, from experience and skills to knowledge about popular games in New Zealand (shout-out to my table buddy, Evaan, who constantly engages me in discussions about our cultures). Mutant, I’m glad you didn’t meet my expectations! 

Don’t we sound like a dream to work for? Join the gang at hello@mutant.com.my