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Don’t forget company culture when evaluating next career move

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Right after my initial contact with Red Shoes PR, I knew that their company culture must be a little different. As hardly any PR agencies had entry-level openings or internships posted at the time of my job search, I began emailing different places asking if there were any openings. I probably emailed about 25 agencies, and Red Shoes PR was the only place that didn’t send me a generic, “No, we have no openings at this time. Please check our Web site for postings.” Karen responded to me and said that while they didn’t have any openings, they were always up for connecting with PR students and invited me in for a meeting.  I was impressed with this response and with their openness.

After my first informational interview with Red Shoes PR, the vibe I got about their company culture was confirmed. I immediately went home and told my roommates that Red Shoes PR was exactly the type of place I wanted to work. Observing the way employees interacted with one another, dressed and even the colors of the walls made me excited about the possibility of working there.

I believe that company culture plays a major role in the attitude, productivity and motivation level. Some aspects of company culture that I think are important are:

1.  Mission and purpose of the organization. Does everyone in your company understand the overall big picture and long term goals of the organization? If employees know what the company’s goals are and feel like their role in the company is valued and contributing to the big picture, they are more likely to have a positive attitude towards their job. Red Shoes PR does an excellent job of communicating to employees what the long-term goals are and how employees contribute to the big picture.

2. Organizational structure. Is your company structured as a traditional vertical hierarchy or is it more horizontal? Are employees encouraged to be competitive with one another or take on more of a team approach? Red Shoes PR aims to lean towards a horizontal structure and definitely takes a team approach. For us, this really seems to work well. Being able to share ideas and have candid conversations has helped me to learn at a much quicker pace than if it were a strict hierarchical structure.

3.  Work environment. Do people in your office sit in their offices with their doors closed? Do you work in cubes? What color are the walls? Do you have strict office hours? These are all details that can affect your productivity and attitude towards work. Until August, all five of us at Red Shoes were packed into 400 square-feet. So, we had no choice but to work closely together. Even as our space has expanded, we try to work collaboratively and spend time working in community spaces. We also have a bit of fluidity when it comes to work hours. We do not have a strict beginning of day/end of day. Everyone works hard and is accountable to one another.

4.  Work/life balance and values. Does your company take a stance on this? Is work supposed to come first? This is one of the most important aspects to think about when seeing if you will fit in with a company, yet often times I think it is overlooked. Red Shoes PR aims to be a company where employees and their families come first. People perform better at their jobs if their lives are balanced and other areas of their life are in check. It is also important to take vacation time and personal time. If work becomes the number one priority/only priority in your life, it is only a matter of time until you are burnt out.

While it may be tempting to get caught up in simply searching for the highest salary during a job search, company culture should definitely be considered. If you are able to find a company whose culture aligns with what you want as an employee, you are going to be much happier and successful in your job.

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