January 28th, 2013 | Comment
I think it was the day of my college graduation when the realization truly sank in. Amid the diplomas and champagne, the question loomed in my mind. How can I possibly swing moving across the country with no job, no car, and no money?! Maybe I was being a tad dramatic. No one was forcing me to make the big move. Having spent my entire childhood and adolescence in New England, the notion of moving to the West Coast had always been a given in my mind; an abstract idea, a plan for the distant future, but nevertheless an inevitability. But when reality hit, as it often does on that fateful graduation day, I could no longer defer it. How do I make this happen? Miraculously, the answer came in the form of PJA Advertising in Cambridge, Mass.
My initial agency education began as a creative intern at PJA. There, I was exposed to the ins and outs, ups and downs of a creative department. Having only a small background in the visual arts, and zero experience in an agency setting, I eagerly drank in all this new knowledge. This new environment was a welcome change from listening to lectures, analyzing and discussing various subjects from the protected bubble of a classroom. I was part of a proactive environment, making tangible changes, not merely listening and interpreting. Yet my travel itch remained, and as summer turned into fall only seemed to intensify. Then on one fateful autumn day I learned of a fantastical place called PJA West. Somehow, after talking to some very helpful PJAers, I was able to relocate my internship out to their West coast office – in San Francisco. It seemed too good to be true, but before I knew it was packing my bags and was Westward bound.
Three weeks and twelve states later, I made it to the Bay Area, and with a touch of trepidation, I showed up on the doorstep of PJA West. The feeling was eerily similar to my first day at 12 Arrow; the only difference being my newfound confidence sprouting from my recent (albeit limited) ad agency experience. But when I walked in and was greeted with that familiar PJA insignia, I felt right at home. And three months later, I’m pleased to report I haven’t panicked and shown up back at my parent’s doorstep (still keeping my fingers crossed).
Although branching from the same company, PJA’s respective offices have some striking contrasts, which have taken some time to get used to. In a bigger agency setting, each department inhabits its own area of the office; here, in an office of ten people, we’re too small to have polarized departments. Each department consists of 2-4 people; and as I’ve quickly discovered, this new size and system has its own set of distinct challenges and advantages. This small agency setting often creates blurred lines between departments, which in day-to-day life means considerably more interaction between each department and individuals. I am certainly not one to qualify either as superior, just one to recognize the merit in experiencing both settings and observing their subtle discrepancies. Having spent time in both offices I can say that these differences are not small; but I have also been fortunate enough to observe and appreciate the bond that links the two places – the skillful and creative environment that PJA manages to foster, motivate, and maintain. On both coasts.