CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q I have been working at a small PR agency for close to six months

now, and my problem is my boss' lack of direction. She works on accounts

ranging from high-end corporate to simple media relations work to


At first, I liked trying out different types of accounts, but now it all

seems so aimless. I know a good practitioner knows a lot about various

types of PR, and I don't want to specialize too early in my career, but

I would like to try one type of account work long enough to feel

confident in it!

Ms. B, Cincinnati

A When you are new to PR, a broad range of accounts can be a great way

to get to know the industry, to see how you take to different kinds of

client work, and to rapidly increase your skills. I am somewhat

surprised that you are already seeking greener pastures after a mere six

months on the job.

But your interest in delving deeper into one industry is laudable. You

have offered only limited insights into your agency, only to say that it

is "small." Small generalist firms will always have a broad range of

clients, so there may not be the opportunity for you to find a

specialist niche. You may want to explore moving to a larger firm


Of course, now is not really the time to start a job hunt, what with

layoffs still figuring prominently in the news. In the meantime, pay

close attention to the type of work you currently do. Make a list of the

accounts that you have found the most gratifying to work on, and figure

out what sort of pattern emerges.

Then talk to your current boss about your desire to gain more in-depth

experience in those industries. If she tells you the firm won't be able

to accommodate your interests, you will know it is time to look for a

position with a firm that has strong practice areas that match your


But give your current employer a chance to help you develop your


If the firm values you as employee, there is every chance your boss will

help you out.

Q This past year has been really tough for me personally, for the agency

that I work for, and for the industry that we service (hi-tech). Not to

mention the entire country. Now that the holidays are over, I find

myself feeling somewhat apprehensive about the coming year. I want to

move forward with a positive attitude, but I am finding it tough to put

the difficult times behind me. How can I, along with my firm, put the

past behind us and move forward positively?

Mr. D, San Francisco

A There are not many in this country who will be sorry to say goodbye to

2001. But turning over the first page of a new calendar does not, in

itself, constitute a fresh start.

It is understandable that you feel apprehensive, because you sense that

the problems we all faced last year are not over. Many of the anxieties

of the past year will linger well into 2002.

My advice: Don't think too far into the future. Set smaller, realistic

goals for yourself and your firm to meet. Get into the habit of honoring

the relatively minor accomplishments you and your staff make, and to

appreciate the fact that your firm has survived some very tough times


As the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, "On the tree, Future,

we build our nest; and in our solitude, eagles shall bring us

nourishment in their beaks!"

Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try

Pandora. E-mail her at

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