Considering applying for the job vacancy at Pagoda? Our newest recruit, Becca gives some insight into how she’s found the first few months of working with us.
How have you found starting a job in the middle of a global pandemic?
I think starting any new job in a global pandemic has its challenges, but for me this was my first office job after graduating from University with a politics degree in 2020.
With the lack of face-to-face interaction, starting a new job where you haven’t even met your team or interviewer in person is very daunting… but thank gosh for zoom, right?!
It was challenging learning the office environment and meeting everyone over a screen. It’s definitely harder to learn the ropes when you can’t just turn around and ask a question quickly to the person beside you. When you have what seems like a ‘silly question’ about an admin issue or just simply learning how to do something on Word or emails, instead of being able to ask you have to go through the process of either googling it or emailing/phoning your colleagues – which can be a bit more embarrassing if the answer is obvious! But thankfully at Pagoda, everyone is extremely patient and helpful (and I’m not just saying this).
I had daily meetings with my colleagues – we still do this and we can now even meet face-to-face. It’s great to finally meet the team in person (the picture above is my first day out with some of the team)!
I’ve had such a good experience starting at Pagoda and highly recommend working here to anyone who is considering applying for a role.
What has been your highlight so far?
My highlight so far has been liaising and setting up meetings with MSPs – and multiple ones at that! While it may seem like a standard part of the job in a PA agency, when you have written a letter and an MSP has taken the time to reply with their busy schedule, it makes you feel like you have done something right and are successful at your job.
My first MSP response was from Rona Mackay MSP to attend a charity event at Antonine Care Home for our client, Meallmore. This was Rona’s first in-person visit after Covid and lockdown – so not only was it was great to get a response from her, it was also an honour for ours to be the first in-person event she had attended in months.
How did your expectation of the role match the reality?
I had previously interned with another PA agency, so my expectations of the role did match the reality. However, what has made it even better is the people who I work with. Everyone is so lovely, patient and understanding, which has made me feel comfortable and at ease.
Moving from an internship to a permanent, paid for role put a lot of pressure on, as I knew I had to be at my best and there was less room to make mistakes. But, a supportive group of colleagues and a network of support has made me feel much more confident – and the feedback is also helping me to improve in my role.
Do you have any advice for people looking for a job at a PR and/or PA agency?
Definitely do your research into what type of company you want to work for. Ask yourself if you want to work for a consultancy like Pagoda that deals with lots of different clients across various sectors or a more niche company that only works with one sector.
When I saw the job vacancy at Pagoda I researched what clients they had worked with. The variety of clients sparked my interest as I could work across different projects, learn new skills and expand my knowledge of public affairs. It’s great to work as part of a team which supports clients across health, social care, retail and consumer work.
You should also research the work environment of the company you are applying for. You might want to have a look at their social media pages to get a ‘vibe’ of the company and what they get up to. This can prove really helpful when making decisions about where to apply.
When I researched Pagoda I could see they had a collaborative culture, which was emphasised in the recruitment process. This made me really want to work at Pagoda as I liked the idea of knowing everyone I worked with well, as well as knowing there would be a close, supportive network around me.
What was the biggest challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was my own lack of confidence. But, in a short time, I’ve been able to learn from my colleagues and with their advice and guidance I have built up my confidence, and feel more relaxed when speaking to clients and stakeholders.
I kept reminding myself that everyone has to start somewhere and everyone was new once. There is no need to feel embarrassed to ask questions, because that is how we all learn.
What would be your top tip for someone interviewing via Zoom?
As much as it is easier said than done, just try to relax and don’t be too ‘rehearsed’. Unlike most people, I had never done a face-to-face interview, so an interview through zoom wasn’t really new to me as I hadn’t experienced the ‘normal’ job recruitment process.
You should definitely do your research into the company and find any background information you may need. I knew that this was the job that I wanted and I was very passionate about why I wanted to do it, so that part came naturally to me. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t do more research into the role just to reassure myself!
Also make sure you still dress like you normally would for an interview. It sets you up better and you feel more professional (rather than doing the old shirt and pj bottoms combo!).
And any top tips for the very first day in a new job?
Take lots of notes. When you start a new job you get a wave of new information and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but if you take notes it’s easier than trying to remember everything. Taking notes (even bullet points) is a good way to spark your memory!