Article by Lizzy Peper | esPResso Committee Member
The question that public relations majors seem to be asked most often is the same as the first topic of discussion in most PR classes at Marist: What is Public Relations? As a freshman, it was daunting to try and define the major while still trying to figure out exactly what you would be doing as an aspiring PR professional. By senior year, PR majors not only have a solid grasp of the meaning of public relations, but have received valuable advice related to the field along their academic journeys.
“I don’t think I really had a concept of what public relations was exactly,” shares Brittany Carpenter, senior public relations major and editor of esPResso, about her freshman year. “I ended up taking an Intro to Communication class where we talked about public relations. There was no turning back after that.”
Many seniors voice their desire to explore different sectors of PR once they realized that PR covers a wide number of fields. Student Government Chief Communication Officer Samantha Policano says “When I was a freshman I wish I knew more about all the different fields of PR that you could go into. I could have focused more on one or two early on rather than waiting almost four years to look more into the differences.”
Anna Carbone, Her Campus co-campus correspondent and career services intern, agrees that learning about different sectors of PR is beneficial. “I wish I had known that the classes were mostly geared toward learning how to work within bigger corporations. It wasn’t until Jennie Donohue’s Campaign Management class that I realized how different the non-profit world was.”
In addition to Campaign Management, other seniors share their favorite communication classes at Marist. Kristen Traub has a double concentration in public relations and advertising and explains that her valuable course was Gender Culture Communication with Dr. Shannon Roper. Although it was a challenging class, Dr. Roper “made the lectures very interesting by always incorporating practical examples.”
The four seniors also offer the most important PR tips they have learned both inside and outside the classroom. Kristen says, “In my interning experience up to this point, I learned that it is important to speak with as many people as possible. This allows you to build connections that will broaden your opportunities.”
“An important thing I learned in the classroom is that you cannot miss your deadlines! You need to able be clear of your timelines because if you submit something late in the real world, it might have a negative effect on your client,” shares Samantha.
Ironically, it appears as though part of any PR job will always come back to the same question: What is PR? “Not everyone understands the value of what PR is, so half your job is convincing clients that your service is beneficial and will be worthwhile,” Anna explains. Brittany agrees. “Sometimes you deal with clients who aren’t familiar with how PR works, and it’s important to be patient with them and get the necessary information you need from them.”
For PR students who still have time left at Marist, Kristen, Samantha, Anna and Brittany offer some seasoned advice. “Make sure you have an end goal in mind. This will keep you motivated and give you direction,” says Kristen. Anna shares that being open to learning any new skills can help you be well-rounded and end up benefiting you when tackling new situations.
Samantha and Brittany recommend obtaining writing and PR experience and internships whenever possible. “Get as much experience as you can, whether that be running your own blog, doing several internships or writing for fun,” Brittany suggests. She advises starting a portfolio with writing samples to help stand out during internship interviews. Samantha shares that interning in different sectors of PR can help you determine which ones you enjoy and may want to focus on in the future.
These four seniors are true examples of how the Marist PR program and practical experience help student transform from freshman asking, “What is PR?” to graduates ready to start careers as PR professionals. Samantha, Brittany, Kristen and Anna, we look forward to following the exciting work you contribute to the PR world.
Photo courtesy of John Walker/Flickr