The great PR Debate: Agency VS Corporate

With internship season quickly approaching, many PR students are scrambling to land their perfect position. Whether it be a full-time gig at a fast-paced lifestyle and fashion-focused agency downtown Toronto, or an in-house job at a global corporation known for big name food products, both agency and corporate life have their simultaneous drawbacks and allure.


As a current postgraduate PR student, I have spent the past five months flip-flopping back and forth between dabbling in the agency pool or securing myself into the suit-and-tie world of corporate life. It seems the golden question amongst peers and teachers alike are, where do you want to work? Agency or corporate?


While the answer may be obvious to some, for others its hard to fully understand what exactly it is you want out of an internship opportunity, and even harder to guarantee that the position you land will provide you with the right experiences best suited to your future career goals.


While applying, keep in mind that every job is different, and every agency and corporation have their own unique ways of doing things that may set them apart form the standard mould we’ve become so focused on.


For those of you still unsure where your interests and skills would be best-suited, I’ve run down a little list of pros and cons for both agency side and in-house.




  • A varied portfolio of clients and projects, which means lots of diverse work experience!
  • Extremely fast-paced environment makes for quick, on-the-job learning
  • Frequent opportunities for promotion
  • Culture tends to be more lively, creative and relaxed
  • Agencies have a group of people working towards the same PR-focused goal – more people to bounce ideas off of, like-minded colleagues


  • Very fast-paced environment which for some may be stressful.
  • Long hours, can make it harder to find work-life balance.
  • Eclectic clients and varying needs – you need to know a little about A LOT. 




  • Focusing on one brand and its assets allows you to delve deep into the industry and accompanying issues.
  • You have quick access to executives and other crisis specialists should an issue with the company arise.
  • Typically the corporate environment offers a more structured, predictable work schedule


  • Promotions tend to happen more slowly in-house compared to agency side
  • Aside from those in the PR department, other coworkers may not fully comprehend what it is you do as a communicator, which can make it difficult to relate to those you work with



While any experience you can get will be beneficial to your growth as a professional in the PR field, not every position is going to be the best fit. Understand your personal strengths and also acknowledge your limits as well. As human beings we all have varying strengths and weaknesses, but don’t limit your opportunities because of the perception you have of one workplace over another. Just because you aren’t an extrovert, doesn’t meant that you wouldn’t thrive in an agency environment.


An internship is your chance to try your hand at PR in the real-world and put into practise the skills and expertise you’ve been honing all year. So be confident in your abilities and trust your intuition, no matter what position you happen to get.


Happy job-hunting!


By: Raquel Farrington, Post-Graduate Certificate, Year Representative




One comment

  1. Great points! As someone who has significant experience in both camps, they’re both great. And you’re absolutely right, each agency, each organization has its own personality so try them all. You’ll be more flexible and adaptable (read: hirable!) at every step of your career. The smaller the organization, often the more chance to get pulled into everything which is also a great way to learn. Best of luck everyone!

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