My college experience has come to an end and my career is beginning. There is a problem, though. (We’re about to get personal here)
I graduated with a degree in journalism and I have made the decision to go into public relations.
As a kid, I used to write poetry and little novels about robots and magic. My brother and I went to a Catholic school that was pretty far away and no one from the school lived by us. We would kick a soccer ball back and forth in the front yard or play with a football. Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot to do. Most of our time was spent playing video games together.
Another one of the activities I did was write. My brother didn’t share that interest, but it didn’t stop me. I wrote every day. My novels that I wrote in black and white composition books had a little following in my school and I would regularly let people borrow them so they could read the new chapters. It was fun, although I hadn’t looked at those books in years before my house burned down, so I’m sure they aren’t that great.
Yes, my house did burn down December 18, 2012. That was the house I grew up in and it happened two days after my birthday. I pretty much lost most of the things from my childhood, but I have already come to terms with that. It did lead to a pretty lengthy break on my blog, though!
Another passion of mine is sports. I’m a diehard Ohio State Buckeyes fan and I have been for my whole life. FOr anyone who doubts me, I live in Middleburg, Fla. Gainesville is literally an hour drive away from here. I’ve been to Gainesville many times. In fact, I went to the Gators’ 82-6 win over Central Michigan in 1997, which is still the most points the Gators have ever scored in a game. The Gators are the team of almost all of my friends, minus a few Florida State fans. I definitely root for Florida and Florida State for the sake of my family and friends, but O-H for life.
Writing and sports have always been passions of mine and it made sense to pursue them in college. My plan was to be a sportswriter. My school, the University of North Florida, didn’t have a special major for sportswriters so I had to do traditional journalism. I’m extremely glad I did go that route because I believe it has helped my writing in unimaginable ways. I am very proud and confident in my writing and majoring in journalism helped get me here.
As I went through college, I felt good about my position. I figured I could pursue a sports writing job and if that fell through, I would just do journalism in a more traditional area.
The closer I got to graduating, the more I realized I hate reporting. I hate journalism that isn’t sports journalism. I don’t like interviewing people who don’t want to talk to me. I don’t like having to beg people to call me back on a story that helps them. The fact that Jacksonville only has one major sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, didn’t help my case to be a sports writer. I would have had to move.
I started to second guess my decision, but it was the path I cut for myself in the jungle that is life. Then, a beautiful thing happened. I had two electives and a senior internship standing between me and my degree. I did a journalism internship because I had to, but as one of my electives, I took Introduction to Public Relations with Professor Chunsik Lee.
My mind was blown and immediately I saw that I could have my cake and eat it too… with chocolate syrup on top! I had been blogging and using social media professionally for years. I would be able to write and connect with people, while not having to report! I was immediately entranced. I bought a giant box full of books about Social Media, Public Relations, Marketing, and SEO. I devoured all of the information I could find. I vamped up all of my social media profiles and my blog, using my new knowledge to try to gain more influence.
This led to the obvious next step: trying to find a job in the field. I searched for everything Public Relations-related in Jacksonville, Fla. and all I found were jobs that required experience. There were very few jobs that would take people right out of college. I probably wouldn’t be able to get them because I don’t have a public relations degree. While I would confidently put my writing next to their’s, I didn’t learn how to plan PR campaigns, host events, or talk to potential clients.
After a very long talk with my girlfriend and a large amount of thinking, I decided to try to get an internship at a PR agency. I researched all of the public relations firms in the city of Jacksonville and I quickly decided that I would try Axia PR first. It is a very respectable organization and it has represented big companies like Miller Lite, Verizon, and Dave & Busters.
Although it is an unpaid internship, I decided that was best for my future. I have gone through two phone interviews and I have an in-person interview set for Tuesday. Darby, the woman who did the phone interviews, has been very nice and she and I share many similarities as she was a broadcast journalism major and switched to PR. Jason Mudd, the CEO, also was a journalist 20 years ago when he decided to do PR. Mudd went on to create an incredibly successful PR firm. I have been given a great opportunity and I hope I can get the internship.
I hope that at the end of the internship, I will be able to write on my resume that I am a PR practitioner and I know everything a PR graduate knows. I will also hopefully get some good references by working hard every day I am there. Best case scenario would be if Axia offered me a job after the internship, but I’d be an idiot to hope for that.
I sit here scared because I don’t know what to expect. What if I get this internship and then when I’m done, no one will still hire me because I don’t have a PR degree? What if Axia decided they don’t want me and then I can’t get another internship. I have invested a good amount of time into public relations now. This is what I want to do and the idea of going back to journalism with my tail between my legs isn’t an enticing thought. Could I even produce great work when I don’t want to be in that field?
I’m floating in limbo right now, between the career I want to be in and the career I trained to be in. I am dedicated to making it and I don’t intend on giving up, but I really it works out. It’s scary to have my future uncertain. I just really hope I get this internship. That will be the start of public relations journey.
Have any comments on this? Any advice for me? Have you gone through this yourself? I’d love to hear them. Please comment below.
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-Marty F. Nemec