My Path to Public Relations

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Hailey discusses what led her to a career in PR.

When I was in high school I came up with a brilliant plan for my future. I was going to become a meteorologist and go by the name of Hailstorm Mayhem. When deciding which colleges to apply to, I specifically researched meteorology programs to make sure I’d pick the school with the best one. Penn State was looking like a good option, so in mid October I drove up to State College to take a tour. It was snowing… in October.

I spent all of five minutes thinking about this potential career path, and then realized that I hate weather. I don’t like the snow unless it gets me out of class or work. I’m terrified of thunderstorms (still am). Rain is the most annoying thing in the world. Humidity is gross. So that was settled. Meteorology was not for me, and neither was a college that gets snow in October. Long story short, that’s how I chose the University of Maryland. And yes, I know it snowed in Maryland Halloween weekend in 2011.

I didn’t want to stray too far from my meteorologist aspirations, so I planned to go to school for broadcast journalism. However, I messed up that plan early on, forgetting to mark it off as my major on my UMD application. It’s a limited enrollment major, so I had to take prerequisites and wait until my junior year to officially declare it as my major.

I was just as inpatient then as I am now, so I just wanted to pick a major. The thought of technically having a major of “undecided” for two years was unsettling, so I chose Communication. The Public Relations track sounded nice, so I went with that. I wasn’t sure if I would stick with the major or not, but I figured I would give it a go.

My first class specific to public relations was News Writing and Reporting for Public Relations Majors. For those of you who went to UMD, it was COMM231 with Professor Toth. For those of you who did not, this class was sometimes referred to as “boot camp.” I looked at it as a type of initiation. If you survived this class with this specific professor, you were in. An overwhelming amount of people dropped the entire major after only the first day of COMM231.

I didn’t enjoy the class, largely because of the teacher, but I was really interested in the content. Apparently I also understood it pretty well. I was asked to be a teacher’s assistant for the class that next semester. After I accepted the position, I knew I would stick with the public relations major.

It was a decision I don’t regret. I’m sure some of my classes would have been easier if I were a general Communication major, but choosing the PR path helped me find my niche. My classes helped me develop a specific set of skills that I actually use in the real world. It’s pretty cool when I have to work on something that mirrors an assignment I completed in school.

Although it seems like just yesterday, it’s been more than a year since I graduated. My education and my experience at numerous internships supports the decision I made years ago to major in communication in the public relations track. It’s solidified my desire to be a public relations professional, even though I can’t go by the name Hailstorm Mayhem.

 

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