The Fear of Being Between Journalism and Public Relations

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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.

Other than writing, nothing had more impact on my video games more than video games, especially this one.

Other than writing, nothing had more impact on my video games more than video games, especially this one.

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.

AXIA logo with public relations

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.

Also, if you actually read this whole thing and liked it, click the “like” button below and follow my blog. I have a lot more interesting stuff on the way!

-Marty F. Nemec

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45 thoughts on “The Fear of Being Between Journalism and Public Relations

  1. Marty, I just want to congratulate you on completing your course and making a bold decision, I trod a similar path back in the day, and I have no regrets at all. Wishing you every success! Anita

      • hi Maty, i like your blog so much and i think i have a similar case. i am a PR graduate without any experience, i graduated in 2011 and have been searching for a PR job but couldn’t find one. mostly they (PR Agencies) are looking for someone with at least 3 years experience. so i can imagine how it feels when you are between the cross road. its so difficult to start of somewhere especially here in Namibia (Southern Africa). let those interesting stories and developments flow. wish you all the best.

  2. Your pursuit of public relations rather than journalism makes perfect sense to me. And I don’t think your degree will be a handicap at all. I’m no expert, but marketing executives I’ve consulted have told me they look for gifted communicators, not necessarily technical experts. If you have “a way with words” you will do well. Go for it!

    • Thanks for taking the time to encourage me. It’s nice to hear someone else say the things I’m thinking. I know it will take hard work and I will try to make lasting impressions every step of the way.

  3. This reminds me of my favorite quote. It is from the musical, Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim. Cinderella asks: How do I know what I want til I get what I want and I see if I like it?

    I hope your get your best position. Regardless of what job you get you can still write. You have a great blog here. I look forward to seeing what happens in your real life adventures.

  4. Two years ago, I was out at dinner with a few friends and a girl I was sweet on. One of my friends asked if I was interested in writing for a science magazine and I, more interested in the girl than anything he had to say, told him we’d talk shop later. I ended up freelancing for the magazine and, after scrabbling my very first interview together at late notice from my editor, was poached by a PR firm after I saved their KPI bacon with the resulting feature. I didn’t get the girl.

    In other words, some things happen for a reason, just as others don’t. Can’t wait to hear what happens next.

  5. Marty, congratulations on completing your degree and making a bold decision. Whatever the path you take, I wish you every success! I really enjoy and learn a lot from your blog posts so keep up the great work, no matter what you will always have a create career in writing :-)

    • Thanks so much. It’s nice to know that some people value what I write. I spend a lot of time on these and I’m never really sure if anyone likes what I say. I just love writing them so I would still do it even if I never got a single comment. However, reading comments like these is WAY better than the alternative.

  6. Go for the career you WANT to be in (PR).

    And just know that even if you don’t end up getting the internship, there are probably plenty of other companies who would love to have an unpaid intern on board. It will work out, believe me, so don’t give up on the internship thing, even if this one doesn’t go through.

    On a career in PR, I think that once you have the experience (regardless of where it is, although some companies will look more solid than others on your resume, of course), I think you are going to be in excellent shape.

    Take it one step at a time. Focus on getting the internship for now, excelling while you’re there, and everything will work out in the end.

    • Thank you! And you’re welcome. I love anyone who takes the time to make a blog and update it regularly. It takes passion to do that and I can always see it. It’s a genuine experience.

  7. I feel your pain. I just finished my Master’s in PR and am having a hard time finding work as well. I am thinking about doing another internship as well. Good luck to you.

    • Good luck to you as well. You sound really qualified with a Master’s. I’m sure you’ll be fine. Keep your chin up. I hope I don’t have to move as that would really mess up… everything I have planned for myself. For now, I’ll do this internship, work hard, and hope for something to happen.

  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good luck to you on your journey! Try not to worry too much about how it will all play out (easier said than done, I know). Seems like you’ve got the drive and a good head on your shoulders to guide you. I’ll be going into my second year of Media and Communication Studies in the fall, and I get asked all the time what I’m going to do when I finish school. My answer: I don’t know! I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    • Thank you! I won’t freak out yet! Hah. You’ll be fine, I’m sure. Communications is fascinating to me. I love interacting with people and I couldn’t think of a better field to be in. Just keep your mind open and learn what you can. The fact that you’re a blogger gives you an advantage, in my opinion. So many of my classmates didn’t practice their writing at all outside of class. I’m sure that will come back to hurt them.

  9. Upon finding your blog I’ve decided you sound just like me, only I’m a couple of years behind. Good luck with everything, you sound like you’ll be great whatever you do!

    • Thank you! You will too! Stay committed and always be trying to learn! I hope you had as much fun in your college major as I did. It gets tough at times, but it feels great to be done!

  10. Best of luck to you! If your boss for your internship doesn’t immediately give you the kind of stuff you’re looking to do to gain experience, don’t lose heart. instead, show him how hard-working you are by delivering your tasks promptly (and with quality) and asking for your next assignment. that’s what our intern did and we’re looking for a position for her. if we’re unable to find one, she’ll at least have our highest commendations. having a consistent course is overrated. what matters is being teachable. :)

    • Thank you so much. It’s nice to hear from the other side! I assure you that I will give 100 percent. If I am on here posting that it didn’t pan out, it won’t be because of a lack of effort. I hope you and the intern we’re speaking of both do well in the future wherever you both end up!

  11. Best of luck! I wouldn’t worry about your degree – out of my graduating class of journalists 90% went into PR and are happy there. Though the advice they’ve always given is aim for a PR job in a field you love. For example science/academia/animals/health. It’s one thing to do PR for the military and/or NASA and love it – and an entirely different job if you’re doing PR for a double-glazing firm…

    But the joy of PR is you get to taking something like double-glazing and make it the most exciting double-glazing you’ve ever heard of!

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