Working at the Agency that Doesn’t Feel Like an Agency – A Reflection on My First Year at Wheelhouse
I’ve never worked at an agency before, but I’ve had a number of jobs dating all the way back to lifeguarding at my neighborhood swimming pool when I was 15. I’ve worked with a variety of people in a variety of industries. In general, I would say my work experiences have been positive, but they weren’t anything to write home about.
When I was searching for a new role, I had no idea what Wheelhouse was other than an agency. By this point I had heard ‘agency’ repeated so many times in a negative context, I was hesitant to try it. I did my due diligence and researched as much as I could, scouring Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and the website’s blog. It sounded like they were on to something. Both employee and client feedback were positive, and I quickly realized Aaron, our President, circa 1984 was my spirit animal.
So, I took the plunge, applied, and was fortunate enough to be selected for the role that I’m currently in. As my first year comes to a close, I wanted to share my experiences with others who may be in the same place I was. Both unsure and skeptical if this company is too good to be true.
Here are the top five things this company has given me, that no company or role has before, and why I feel this really is the agency that doesn’t feel like an agency:
Everyone has an open-door policy, all the way up to our President. I have never been denied answers to my questions because of where I sit in the organization. On top of that, leadership consistently seeks out new ways to share information with us. We’re walked through our financials every quarter and have an open Q&A session with our President and COO during monthly community meetings.
2. Acceptance and Celebration of People
Come as you are and bring your quirks with you. Sometimes I like to sit on the floor instead of at my desk. Sometimes I have dance parties for one. Sometimes — most of the time — I roll around on the ground with our office dogs.
Professionalism doesn’t mean you have to wear uncomfortable clothing and hide who are you. You can be just as professional in a suit as you are in sock and sandal combos — ok, that one’s just me.
How invested is your manager in your professional growth? Personally, I’ve never been asked what my career goals are at a company before. At Wheelhouse, not only are those questions asked, but the immediate follow up is “How do we make this happen for you?” Do you want to move into a management position? How about learn a skill from a different team? Maybe there’s another team altogether that is better aligned with your careers goals? Management and leadership are so invested in making sure you feel fulfilled in your role; all you have to do is ask and the wheels will start turning.
4. Role Models and Mentorship
I’m the oldest daughter of four kids in my family. We have an amazing mother who was a stay-at-home mom to all of us. I loved my family dynamic, but as a result, I’ve never had anyone close to me serve as a guide for being both a woman in business and in tech. At Wheelhouse (on just my team alone) I have that times THREE. Both of our Directors of Digital Advertising (Laura Pattison and Laura Rowe), as well as our SVP of Digital Strategy, Casey Curtis, are awesome examples of women in business, tech, and leadership. To see people like me being celebrated for who they are gives me so much hope for my own future.
There’s a stark contrast between the kindness I experience at Wheelhouse and the kindness I’ve experienced at other companies. At other companies, kindness is saying “how are you” and not eating someone else’s lunch.
When you experience the kindness of the people at Wheelhouse, you feel valued and you feel seen. You’re asked questions because others really want to know more about you. They’ll remember details you’ve forgotten you shared because they care about you and what you have to say.
Looking back on my first year, when people ask me if I like where I work, I tell them it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I feel safe and accepted and I often equate my feelings with those of a family. For some, that sounds extreme, but I prefer to fully let kindness and joy into my life wherever I can find it and Wheelhouse isn’t short of either.