Alice DuBois is celebrating 2 years with 451! From intern in Boston to Account Director in LA, Alice has grown alongside the agency. In honor of her workiversary, we asked her to compare and contrast the east coast and the west coast:
The 4 C’s of Working Coast to Coast
As a 451 OG, I’ve seen the agency grow from a one-room shop in Boston’s Financial District to a booming business in its North End with its name in the Boston skyline. Little did I know when I started out as a fresh-faced Boston University grad turned 451 Account Coordinator that I would one day be an Account Director in the agency’s first bicoastal office in Los Angeles.
There are plenty of exhilarating changes that come with working at a growing agency, but none quite so striking as the ones that resulted from hopping coasts. As I prepared to make the big move to California, I was well-aware I would experience some measure of culture shock, but couldn’t have guessed how much it would translate to my working life. Here are the four areas I’ve observed the most striking differences since changing from a 451 Bostonian to a 451 Angeleno:
While I miss the time the T afforded me as I trekked in from Brookline on the Green Line to get a head start on emails, read the Metro, and sneak in a few rounds of Words With Friends, cruising into work every morning with the windows down and the radio bumping ain’t half bad. Sure LA has traffic, but when I can sit in gridlock gazing at palm trees, who am I to complain?
Whether dressing for a client meeting or a day at the office, style on the two coasts is decidedly different. In the PR world, we always maintain an air of professionalism regardless of our locale, but the West Coast wardrobe has a slightly more lax nuance. Button downs and wrap dresses are common for client meetings on the East Coast, it’s not uncommon to sit across the conference room table from an LA executive in jeans and a t-shirt. While there’s a little bit of everything out here, the West Coast seems to keep it distinctly more casual.
The differences in local fare go way beyond kale vs. chowda. I could get into the nitty gritty of my favorite workday lunch spots in each city and how they compare, but I’ll cut right to a matter that’s near and dear to my heart: burritos. One of my first orders of business when settling into our LA digswas to locate the nearest spot to get my weekly (or who am I kidding, often daily) fix, but the Baja Fresh on Hollywood Boulevard doesn’t hold a candle to the hug in a tortilla that is an Anna’s Taqueria burrito. Every time I’m working from the Boston office I pencil in as many pilgrimages to the Anna’s by MGH as my schedule allows.
Beyond learning the local lingo (yes, people here actually use words like ‘gnarly’ in casual conversation) getting into a new communication groove between the two offices has been key in establishing our LA outpost. Clear and consistent communication is at the core of everything we do at 451, and keeping that strong between bicoastal offices requires an entirely new dynamic. In theory, picking up the phone to bounce ideas off a co-worker sounds simple, but day to day communication between offices has required an artful balance of phone, Skype, texting, and GChat. It’s not uncommon for our teams to host brainstorms and internal meetings via Skype, and I’ve even attended a client meeting via Facetime.
If you’re interested in learning more about PR, working in LA, or why I think Anna’s burritos are so gosh darn amazing, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.