The most important lesson public relations taught me? That in order to succeed in this field, you can only learn so many skills. The rest you need to possess inherently. These are crucial and hold the power to transform the future and profitability within any industry or organization.
I am a relationship person and public relations is truly a relationship business.
The fact that I’m an only child tends to surprise people after they meet me. I am used to hearing it my entire life. People always associated me with being from a family of many siblings because of my naturally social and selfless nature. The stereotype surrounding only children includes being spoiled, antisocial and so forth. My nature proved quite the opposite as a child. To this day, I find myself constantly surrounded by others, checking in with friends and family to ensure their well-being and keep spirits up. In fact, I initially wanted to attend the University of Maryland because of its 40,000 undergraduate students; I wanted there to always be someone new that I haven’t met. Finding a suitable major that highlighted my personal interests and professional talents proved the only matter that needed addressing.
When applying to college, the University of Maryland offered an excellent, highly rated psychology program. I thought to myself, “Well…I love helping people, so this must be the major for me!” My freshman and sophomore year, I chose to embark on the psychology major because of my genuine love and passion for people. This major taught me why others say and act the way that they do. Knowing what makes a person tick gave me the ability to properly read a room and a crisis. There’s two sides to every story and every word contains a stronger meaning. I now learned how to best communicate with others and problem-solve in a timely fashion.
But, I quickly realized that although I gained a deeper understanding of individuals, the neuroscience field became extremely difficult for me to grasp.
I needed to switch my major to one that included collaboration, minus the science. I stumbled upon communication, as I always considered myself a strong writer and excellent communicator. I finally started to do well in my classes, really got a grasp for all the concepts I learned and received the grades I hoped for. I immediately realized that public relations and marketing not only incorporated my strong writing and verbal skills, but also allowed more flexibility for team collaboration, content creation and creativity, which I am much better suited for.
What many people overlook is the many similarities between psychology, communication and public relations. In fact, psychology equips you with many of the desirable traits for the public relations and marketing industry, especially with the new focus on social media in today’s society. To understand how public relations successfully reaches its publics, PR professionals must assess their audience, how that audience forms their attitudes and opinions, their engagement and their ability to retain that message and information. PR professionals’ ultimate goal involves influencing behavior, the foundation of psychological practice. In other words, psychology teaches communication professionals to learn their publics. To tailor their messages to their needs and wants and watch the subconscious behavior unfold to provide positive feedback on their brand and/or products.
Now being in my final semester of college, I am so glad that I switched from psychology to communication.
I could have easily chosen Journalism or Marketing, but the communication major provides four different tracks to choose from. I specifically chose to specialize in public relations, as it seemed the most similar to social psychology, included a need for strong writing skills, and a need to truly understand target audiences. Even though I chose to specialize in PR, I’ve discovered that all areas of communication tend to overlap and PR professionals often assist in other departments in any given company, such as the Marketing department. Even though I don’t claim a “dream job” yet, it’s assuring to know that the possibilities seem endless.
Looking back over my college career, my goals and objectives for what I saw myself doing post-graduation certainly changed. However, I can now say in full confidence that I’m finally progressing into the career path meant for me. Could my career path and aspirations continue to change in the future? Absolutely. Regardless, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to experience so many different fields of study and truly find where my passions lie.