When I finished my first “big girl” internship after my freshman year of college, I was still contemplating where I wanted to take my future career. I was relatively new to the professional world and didn’t know exactly what field interested me the most. However, I thought I knew one thing for certain: a corporate work environment wasn’t for me.

In my naïveté, I assumed that “keeping things professional” came with a certain coldness that felt impersonal. And while some people may appreciate a professional atmosphere where there is a clear line between professional and personal, it removes the sense of interpersonal connection that (I think) humans crave and often need to thrive.

When I started my internship at Mekky Media Relations my senior year of college, I was thrilled because working for a boutique firm would allow me to get more hands-on experience and maybe change my view of the corporate world. And boy was I right. Over the last six months, I have learned more than I could’ve imagined about the PR industry; I have written press releases, sat in on client calls, helped with proposals, drafted bylines, researched media lists, and so much more. But more importantly, I learned that work doesn’t have to be something you dread — working in a place where people genuinely care about you and want to see you succeed rather than only prioritizing the company’s bottom line makes a world of difference in how you view your professional life.

I am no CEO or big corporate hotshot, but even as an intern, I was able to understand and see the value of an uplifting and supportive office culture and the impact it can have on professionals. So here are a few of my learnings about the benefits of a supportive work culture:

Fosters greater transparency and teamwork
No one likes asking for help; it can be daunting and make you feel inferior. Especially as an intern, you don’t want to come off as not knowing what you are doing. But that isn’t the case at Mekky Media. Whenever I reached out for help, people were more than happy to lend a hand or offer advice. I never felt like a burden no matter the inquiry, reaffirming that when a culture of support is established in a workplace, it fosters a sense of comfortability that allows employees to be upfront with struggles (work-related or not). This encourages the team to work together and support each other, further propelling the company to even greater success. At Mekky Media, when people end their emails with “please reach out with any questions,” it’s not a formality, they genuinely mean it.

Instills motivation and drive
Many external motivators keep employees working — making a living, supporting your hobbies or families, building a career for yourself, etc. But sometimes those motivators aren’t enough to keep the passion alive — no matter how much you love your job, we are all susceptible to burnout. However, in my own experience, whenever I’ve felt like lying in my bed all day instead of logging onto my next meeting, there was something else motivating me aside from those external factors: the desire not to let the team down. Not because I felt some immense pressure from my colleagues to get my work done, but because a sense of community is established in a healthy and positive work environment, thus creating motivation outside of yourself.

Changes your overall work mindset
Every time a new calendar invite pops up in my email, instead of thinking, “Oh great… another work event,” I actually get excited about company events. Whether it’s a workshop, wellness event or happy hour, it doesn’t feel like a burden having to attend events outside working hours. And I know that’s because of the positive atmosphere and environment that is Mekky Media. Mekky Media has established a work culture that feels like a family, and I am so grateful to have been welcomed by such a fantastic group of people.

It is so important to have a work-life balance, but that doesn’t have to mean separating professional from personal. When a company creates an environment that allows you to feel comfortable and supported without the need for cold, calculated professionalism, as cliché as it sounds, it makes work not feel like work.