Embracing Circles the NEOphyte Way

Before coming to JS, I was an intern at a large company and my supervisor set up weekly meetings with “higher ups” in the company, where I could grab a cup of coffee and just talk to them. I asked them questions about their background, interests and advice on all things career related. I looked forward to those coffee dates; it was a great for both parties take a step back and just learn about one another.

After a few months at JS, I mentioned the idea to my mentor and JS NEOphyte Huddles were born. The one-on-one sessions evolved into group huddles, because I wanted to give everyone a chance to join in on the learning. The NEO team invites the newest JS team members to “huddle up” with a seasoned JS veteran. Besides the bagels and coffee, each session is a little bit different because everyone has a unique story to share. Whether it’s story about their first job bagging groceries, or their first new business pitch to a Fortune 500 company, each session helps the new JSers learn a little bit more about the men and women who have made JS what it is today. 

The goal of the NEOphyte huddles is not just for us to get to know one another, but to learn from one another. It’s a truly rewarding experience to hear from those who have come before us and I leave each huddle having learned something new.

To give a closer look on what takes place inside the huddles, I reached out to some of those who have led these huddles and asked them to reflect on their experiences: here’s what they had to say:

What is one piece of advice you have for you fellow JSers or those in the communications field?

“Study. But not like you did in college.  Continue to learn in the broadest possible fashion.  Study your community. Study your clients. Study their industry.  Study things that are totally unrelated that make you well-rounded. Study our profession. Study others in the firm, and others you want to emulate.  And then combine your studies with what you already know, and you’ll be surprised how far you will go.” – Brian Brodrick, JS Athens, 16 years

Can you describe a key learning from your work at JS (skill, client work, etc.)?

“Initiative is rewarded. If you have an idea, flesh it out and sell it in. Our size and independence allows us to be flexible, which allows you to experiment. And if the idea is really good, then it can be embraced and shared by the whole firm. That, in turn, has a positive impact on our clients and, thus, our business — and you.” – Mart Martin, JS Atlanta, 7 years

What would you say to someone who is just starting out in this field?

“Young people know much more about social media than older people do, so be a teacher to the veterans.  And learn from them about most everything else.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions; they will welcome them, or they should.  Ask a lot of questions during job interviews too because part of success in PR is being inquisitive and proactive.” – Bo Spalding, JS Atlanta, 18 years

After overseeing the NEOphyte Huddles for more than two years, I feel like the program is continuing to reach its goal of acquainting the newest JSers with the veterans. The huddles have helped quench our inquiring minds which, per Bo’s comment, is something everyone in PR should do. And for me, the huddles provide a remarkable learning opportunity and allow me to feel more at home in my workplace. What’s your biggest ‘a-ha moment’ from your career so far?