Making an Impact with Office Culture

Tori Ahrendt, Graphic Designer for Frontier

Tori Ahrendt, Graphic Designer for Frontier

The Problem.

When you’re a student looking for internship options in design, you never know exactly what  you’ll find. Are you going to do throwaway projects with zero impact on your portfolio? Will you be overworked, or worse, working for free? Perhaps, you’ll be a glorified errand runner, instead of a designer. Or, will you hit the jackpot and be given an opportunity to create work that has an impact on the trajectory of your career? I wasn’t alone in hoping I’d find the latter.

While opportunities for impactful internships are growing in the design field, they tend to be harder to find, as industry isn’t always quick to realize that students’ time is valuable and your big fancy firm does not provide an experience valuable enough to justify zero pay. 

The Hunt.

So, when I was looking for an internship, I spent plenty of time trying to find a paid position that would give me both tangible experience as well as the ability to pay for my food and rent. 

Eventually, my search led me to Good Marketers Group, which touted a learning experience in my field as well as the opportunity to create portfolio pieces that would help carry me into a design position. 

Also, it was a paid gig, and was my favorite choice from day one. Plus, the position was based in Victoria, BC, which was an exciting opportunity for me to discover what it would be like to live in a new city for the summer.

Staff at Frontier worked with us interns as we learned.
They guided us in the right direction as we developed, giving us more and more responsibility, and as a result, we started to develop confidence in our abilities.
— Tori Ahrendt

The Internship.

I applied with my portfolio of passion projects and student media work, and was lucky enough to get a position as a Design and Art Direction intern. 

When I moved to Victoria, I was not quite sure what to expect. Would the internship live up to everything it claimed to be in its advertisement, allowing me to create meaningful work, and challenge me to grow and become a better designer? The answer was yes.

My fellow interns and I were introduced to weekly team lunches, 32 hour work weeks, bad (and sometimes good) puns, fundraisers, and projects that had a real impact on real people. 

From the start, I knew the culture of Frontier was different. 

I was intrigued by the hardworking and knowledgeable people who allowed me, a newly minted intern, to collaborate on projects that were important for client success and create assets that would be published—where they’d be seen!

The Outcome.

Staff at Frontier worked with us interns as we learned. They guided us in the right direction as we developed, giving us more and more responsibility, and as a result, we started to develop confidence in our abilities. 

I’m happy to say that I’ve learned that Frontier’s interest in you as a person does not change from intern to employee. 

Whether making decisions as a team or as an individual, Frontier is all about offering people the support they need to grab hold of opportunities, make changes and grow. It goes to show that caring about the people you employ can really motivate professional as well as personal growth. It did for me!

The Insight.

By investing in its people, Frontier is continuously evolving, made more versatile by the skills and competencies acquired by staff who are encouraged to become experts in their areas of interest.

Frontier’s acceptance and support of the intern and the employee is what makes its culture so interesting and enticing. I’m grateful for the opportunity this summer, and for everything I learned during my internship. When your abilities are recognized, you can truly create impactful work—and Frontier is in the business of impactful work!

More Than Mullets: Office Culture That’s Empowering + Engaging

At Frontier, we’re dedicated to helping organizations that do good, be great. We have teams specializing in print, digital, design, data, and client success, and they all play a unique role in making that happen.

Fundraising success inspired unprecedented personnel growth in 2018…

Mariam stepped up to become general manager. Nick took on the role of art director with Chantal taking on the majority of design work. A recent addition, David, joins Megan and Silvana to complete the digital team. Client happiness is handled by Sarah and Matt. And finally, our print team isn’t just Sophie anymore! Mariya brings copywriting in house to help streamline production and fit each word into fundraising best practices. And to complete our print team for the first time, we have recent additions Eric, and me—Katie!

Eric and I bravely attended the annual Benifactor retreat this past fall after only one week on the job. Lucky for us, the first order of business was to unpack a box of (mostly) mullet wigs, which nearly every Benifactor manager enthusiastically wore. Seeing a new boss in an epic mullet is enough to put almost anyone at ease, so us newbies were ready for a dive into the wonderful, weird world of Frontier—a world that includes so much more than mullets.  

Culture Blog Post_Teamof13.jpg

Retreats are essential to maintaining the Benifactor mosaic. You see, Frontier is not an only child. We share an office—and knowledge—with several sister agencies, all existing within the Benifactor family. As close relations of Charity Electric, Capstone Fundraising, Good Marketers Group, and Glass Register, Frontier is the sister who handles print and digital marketing for long-term clients.

Being part of a mosaic means we—and by extension our clients—are a part of something bigger. With the rapid growth that we consistently experience, our most recent retreat focused on defining who Benifactor is as a whole and exploring a vision for a sustainable future together.

The retreat was more than a chance to create a vision for our future. It was an opportunity to bond over shared meals and off-key karaoke. All in all, our retreat was a thoughtful reflection of Benifactor’s office culture, which revolves around employee well-being. As stated best by Benifactor Advisor, Heath, during our first retreat session, “growing as a person is more important than the company.”

That’s why Frontier’s culture focuses on keeping people empowered and engaged. Every week, we enjoy Taco Tuesday team lunches where we have the chance to laugh, bond and get to know each other so we can work better as a team.

With a flexible 32 hour work week, we can set our own hours and choose to enjoy the shared focus and camaraderie of our bright, open-concept office, or to work from home.

We also take the idea of self-determination seriously—it’s right in our name. We’re on the frontier of fundraising, and every job candidate writes a review of the HBO series Deadwood. It gives us a writing sample and insight into the way our potential new team members think. More importantly, it gives new hires a helpful analogy to understand our culture.

Like in the frontier town of Deadwood, at Frontier Marketing Company everyone gets to choose who they want to be. Team members are encouraged to figure out how their unique skills can most benefit the team. Someone could start in a well-defined role, and within a few months or years, end up in a position that didn’t even exist when they started.

Our culture constantly evolves to help the team be their best. This kind of flexibility and empowerment keeps everyone engaged and excited about their work. Even better, with everyone adding unique skills and strengths, we have a whole range of expertise that allows us to produce the best possible results for our clients.