Natalie Heaman—practicum at Citizen Relations, a PR agency in Yaletown
Hey, check it out, I’m a Citizen now! And will be for the duration of my practicum at Citizen Relations, a PR agency in Yaletown. Citizen is a part of Vision7, a company that has several communications agencies under it, including Cossette. Citizen has offices around the world, their Canadian ones being in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto.
Leading up to the first week I felt excited and anxious, a classic combo. A few weeks earlier I had talked with my host in more detail about the kinds of work I would be doing at Citizen, so I felt there was a clear sense of direction. But since it is my first time doing design work in a setting that wasn’t from the comfort of the Arbutus building at Cap or freelancing from my home I was a bit anxious. One of the reasons I chose to do my practicum at Citizen is because it seemed to be the farthest out of my comfort zone, but also the offer with the most self-direction and room for opportunity.
One week in and I feel with certainty that I made a good decision for the right reasons.
Over the course of the week I was briefed on client work I will be involved in, ranging from an infographic for new technology in the oil & gas industry aiming to eliminate emissions in Western Canada, to contributing to branding and web design for a conference on sustainability. Additionally I have been given plenty of internal projects to work on, which is great because they allow me to always keep busy even if the client work is stop-and-go. One of the things I’m most excited about at Citizen is being involved in projects across all stages, and the eagerness of our team to involve me and my design perspective & skills on their PR work.
A highlight from my week was helping plan and facilitate a brainstorming session. The client is big in the entertainment industry and we were working to come up with ideas on how to promote a show coming to Vancouver in the Fall. Having learned about advertising in school, it was interesting to compare and contrast that to PR perspective. The brainstorm session was a success!
Week 1 has been a great introduction to working at Citizen, and I’m looking forward to what will happen moving forward.
Second week of practicum and things are feeling more routine and familiar. This week I’m going to talk more about the office culture and our team. One of the things that makes Citizen a unique opportunity is that in the Vancouver office I am their designer. The rest of the team are all account managers, account executives, senior execs., VPs, etc. Citizen Canada does have a design team, but they are located in Toronto, and Vancouver want found they wanted to try having their own designer.
My buddy at Citizen, Izabela, has been awesome at helping connect me with other creatives in the Citizen and Vision7 network for support. This week I had a phone call with Citizen Canada’s art director, Hilary, who gave me lots of advice to help with project management and working effectively with a team wherein I am the only designer. This week I also met with Grace, an art director at Cossette, who walked me through their creative process and answered my questions. While I was down there I also got to say hi to Janice, Shanene, & Charmaine, lots of familiar IDEA faces! I also can easily connect with the art director of Level 11, David, as he sits right across from me on our floor! Citizen’s floor is also shared with Camp Pacific and Jungle.
I’ve learned the importance of clearly walking through how I approach creative projects (always starting with a brief!) with each point of contact I have for bigger projects. Communication is key! Thankfully while we share different backgrounds and have different approaches the Citizen team is really receptive and eager to work together.
One final bit of office culture: Every Thursday at 4 the Citizen team has ‘foursies,’ where everyone takes turns getting snacks and we all meet in the kitchen to nibble and share some wine or beer. It’s a really nice moment in the week, and a great way to talk with and get to know my coworkers. This week we managed to have the whole team in attendance!
For more on Natalie, see her blog at nmheaman.wordpress.com.