Hello! This quarter I am interning at Jill Schmidt Public Relations – a firm based in Wilmette with clients around the world. This office of eleven (including another intern and I) churns out dozens of news stories and segments daily. However, some days we do more than work.
My second week at the firm, it was decided that we would visit a nearby farm. In the middle of the day. We all packed into two cars and drove to see some chickens and then get lunch.
As a new intern, this was shocking to me. How could the head of the company possibly think that it was a good idea for her employees to take two hours away from the office? Without knowing my question, she answered it for me.
JSPR, as those who work there call the firm, is a relatively new firm, having opened in February. From the beginning of its life, its founder believed that a relaxed and fun environment would be more productive than a rigid and structured office. Having too many rules is not only not fun, she told me, but also limiting – especially when her employees are tasked with coming up with creative ways to market their clients.
Having the freedom to leave for an appointment, come late, text a bit, and even go to a farm in the middle of the workday, does a few things to the office. It sends the message that our boss trusts us. She knows that no matter what, the work will get done. Secondly, getting a break or two in the middle of a long workday – many employees there work well into the evening – keeps the “creative juices” flowing. Stepping outside briefly, even for a minute, improves productivity by over ten percent, according to one study. Lastly, the laid-back atmosphere of the office makes it a place at which it is fun to be. JSPR employees actually look forward to being in the office.
This idea has been enlightening for me. I have always been very intense and serious when it came to my work, but this internship is teaching me that as a worker and as a leader, it is sometimes better to take a breath and allow yourself or your coworkers to have some fun. The harder they play, the harder they’ll work.
Alex Wolfe is a senior theatre major who is interning at Jill Schmidt Public Relations during fall quarter. Follow her through the quarter to get the scoop on her internship!