Why I Chose 8THIRTYFOUR: An Outsider Looking In

It was about a year and a half ago when I was still living in Chicago that my mom sent me a quick email saying, “Hey, I found the perfect place for you to work if and when you come back to Grand Rapids. It is a female-owned business downtown AND… there are office dogs. Love you!”
The email ended with a link to 8thirtyfour.com. I quickly looked at the site, read about this Kim Bode superwoman, and thought to myself, “Wow, that would be pretty cool someday,” and then went on with my day in Chicago. I hadn’t really given much thought to moving back to Grand Rapids, so I didn’t spend too much time researching 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications, a place, I didn’t realize at the time, that would one day be my new work home.
A few months ago I was really getting the itch to come back to West Michigan – the place I grew up. After a lot of thinking, and some more thinking, followed by a bit more thinking, I decided it was time to make the big move, and I started my job search. A quick google search of “Grand Rapids Public Relations Agency,” landed a familiar name at the top of my search: 8THIRTYFOUR Integrated Communications (top of the page thanks to our team’s great SEO skills…!), and I decided to do more of a deep dive into this company.
Having worked in Chicago at a smaller agency, which was also owned by a badass woman, I got really excited the more I read about 8THIRTYFOUR and Kim’s story. From my internet research (stalking), I realized a few amazing things:

  • Kim knows what she is doing and she is damn good at it
  • The company has been around for 11 years
  • They have a wonderful reputation in the community
  • Their team is continuing to grow
  • They recently expanded to a new, and bigger, office space
  • They work really hard, but clearly know how to have a LOT of fun (Happy Hour Hustler podcasts, favorite cocktails listed on their business cards, fun team outings, etc.)

In addition to all of that, the agency and I also shared two very important passions… dogs and wine! Was I dreaming? Is this place real? I had to work there.
Meeting Kim in person for the first time, at O’Tooles (where else does one do formal sit-down interviews?), was nothing short of… an experience. I have never met someone who is so passionate about what she does and says exactly what is on her mind. I knew right away that she was someone I wanted to work for. After a few hours of conversation, two (or three) screwdrivers, and one “let’s shake on it” job offer, I was officially part of the 8THIRTYFOUR team.
My first day of work had arrived, along with a full helping of first day jitters, and I walked into the new office space off of Monroe. (If you haven’t seen the new 8THIRTYFOUR office, I highly recommend stopping by – it’s pretty darn cool.) I spent the day learning more about the agency culture, memorizing the names of all six office dogs, and getting right down to work. Two of 8THIRTYFOUR’s core values are, “We know our shit” and “We work harder than the rest,” and that was made very apparent on my first day. The team let me jump right in and start working on a strategy document they were starting. It was time to hit the ground running!
Within the first week, I realized that everyone at 8THIRTYFOUR has their own special talents and that there was so much I could learn from this group of people. From SEO wizards, knock-out designers, and copywriting pros, to the dedicated and wonderful leadership team, everyone brings something unique to the table. It was then that I was beginning to realize what was meant by “The truly integrated communications firm.” There is nothing that the team at 8THIRTYFOUR can’t do. 8THIRTYFOUR really is a one-stop-shop for all communications needs, and to me, that was amazing. The team members are extremely talented, and when there is something they don’t know how to do they are humble and ask someone who may excel in that particular area. There is something to being a “Jack of all trades,” but there is also something to just being really damn good at what you do, and to never stop learning and getting better.
A lot of people see their job as a means to an end or “just a job,” but I was looking for something a little bit more. 8THIRTYFOUR has a special culture and I can truly say I already have a “work family” at my new little work home. I have only been a part of the team for a month, and all I can say is, thank goodness for mothers who give you that little extra push to come home and find where you really belong.

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