When I used to picture working at a “real job” I didn’t imagine people would be dressed as casually as in the classroom. But at the two PR/marketing agencies I’ve now interned for, that has mostly been the case. It’s interesting that a casual environment has become the norm in a lot of agency-type places, particularly when you look at pictures from agencies just a few decades ago where the offices and dress code were noticeably more conservative.
I think that a casual environment tends to fit the type of work that an agency does. A very hierarchical setup doesn’t encourage openness and creative freedom as much as a more relaxed setting. At Allied Integrated Marketing, where I’m currently interning, there are some private offices for senior employees but most have glass walls and the doors are usually left open, creating a collaborative vibe. A lot of agencies with newer office spaces even have an open environment with no divisions whatsoever.
With that said, I’ve sometimes found a relaxed agency environment to be confusing at time. For instance, I’ve walked into interviews wearing a suit when the person interviewing me was in jeans and sandals. Career counselors advise us to dress up no matter what environment you interview at, but when I’ve talked to agency employees they often say that overdressing makes candidates look like they won’t fit in. I now usually dress business casual for interviews if I know the office promotes a relaxed culture (I’ve found that the company social media pages and Glassdoor.com are good places to determine this). While it can create a few complications, I think the casual office environment makes sense for most agencies.