When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a figure skater. At the wise age of 10, though, I decided that simply wasn’t practical, so I opted to be a news anchor on the TODAY Show instead.
By the time I reached high school, I had become a committed aspiring journalist, recognizing that my love of writing far outweighed my TV talent. So I did what any hopeful journalist would do — I became a yearbook nerd, picked a college with one of the best journalism schools in the country and went on my way to chase my dream career.
When you go to college, the number one question you’re asked is your major. I watched my friends and classmates struggle through the “undecided” or “hoping for med school” answers, but I never had any doubt.
“I’m majoring in journalism and political science.” That was that, until junior year.
Under UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism, students are able to pick specializations, like reporting, public relations and graphic design, to name a few. I had chosen reporting, joined the school newspaper and was ahead of the game as far as course credit.
After a communications internship at my home school district last summer, though, I suddenly found myself becoming more and more interested in the field of public relations. As a first-semester junior, I decided to change my specialization, which made me regret being so confident in my career path as a freshman.
I had three semesters left to learn all I could about PR before entering the real world, but I am so happy I took the leap, and here is why:
1) I wanted to be able to have an opinion when I cared about an issue. Reporting is based on objectivity and fairness, and while I love the nobility of those values, I wanted to be able to advocate for causes or companies that mattered to me, and that is PR in a nutshell.
2) I love building relationships, and with PR, the game is in the name. The PRSA definition of public relations exemplifies this concept. Building relationships of trust between a client and its stakeholders is what PR is all about, and I have learned the hard way through internships that I need human interaction and relationships to enjoy a job.
3) With PR, you get to know a little bit about a lot of things! I am so excited I get to work at an agency like Clairemont Communications this summer and become more familiar with the Raleigh area. I like this aspect of PR the most; I can explore different fields, topics, issues and organizations all at the same time, so there will always be diversity in the job and what it looks like on a daily basis.
Written by Clairemont intern Haley McDougal, a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill.