When I began my journey at Ohio University, I was dead set on writing hard news. To make a long story short, I switched tracks less than a semester in and I’ve never been better. Through strategic communication, I’ve had countless opportunities to connect with seasoned individuals that have traveled the globe, won Pulitzer Prizes, even met multiple presidents. It was, and still is, difficult to conceptualize that I’d be working in the same field as them. As a 20-something year old, finding the balance between putting an appropriate amount of pressure on myself for success and taking a moment to just say, “you need to breathe,” was tough. 

Public relations has an enormous number of potential careers, it’s daunting. Unfortunately, the only way to find which one is right for you while in college is through listening and learning during which you’ve been tossed into a cycle of trial and error. What people don’t tell you is that it’s almost encouraged to stray from the path you were intent on following when you first considered college. 

Rather than approaching with caution like you’ve been taught to since your education started, dive in. You’re going to get more connections in college than free t-shirts and it’s your job to utilize them. Attend your lectures, workshops, and your extracurriculars, they’re likely going to be the only way you know exactly what you don’t want to do.

Whether your first choice is internal communications or crisis communications, you’re bound to find a spot where you succeed and probably a few where you don’t. Journalism doesn’t point a finger and tell you where to go; it’s not supposed to. The entire purpose of the field is to give reliable sources of information that they can choose from. Sometimes it can feel as though PR gives you too many choices, too many outcomes that you’re unsure of and the classroom doesn’t always fill in the gaps.

Jack Hiltner is a junior majoring Journalism- Strategic Communication. He can be found on Twitter here and LinkedIn here.

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