As I start writing this, it’s March 13th, 2015. Tomorrow night I’ll turn 24 years old. At the moment, my college trajectory has me graduating in the Spring of 2016. After years of roller coaster schooling, I’ve finally landed upon what it is I’d like to do; public relations. I’ve gone through two different dreams –music and then psychology– to arrive here. Well, three if you count advertising, but that was a very brief stint. If it seems like I’ve been a little flaky with my fields of study, you wouldn’t be wrong. This time it’s different. The field of communications as a whole lets me dabble in a number of areas relating to my love for connecting with others and the visual arts. You could say I’ve found that elusive niche that we’re all searching for at one point or another. The remedy for that age-old question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
This is an open letter to my future self. As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m going to use a site called FutureMe.org to send a link to this post to the me of several years from now. It’ll be an experiment. I want to see if the reasons I decided to go into public relations are the same reasons I’m either still trying to get into the thick of it or doing everything I can to stay in it.
Public relations fascinates me for a few reasons. One of the main reasons I decided to pursue it was because I felt like I was already practicing it. My three years at Apple have taught me a lot about relating with the public. No other retail store I’ve ever been to emphasizes the human connection between a company and its clientele like they do. Granted, my function there is on a personal scale and not regional or global, but I still have the immense responsibility of being the face for that company. One person could relay a bad experience to a few of their friends, and the snowball begins to grow. In PR, the snowball is instead a torrent of icy disdain on a large scale, but Apple has successfully taught me how to be precise and courteous in my dealings with others.
Strategy is one of the main cogs that makes public relations function. I’m personally excited by challenging situations. From what it sounds like, PR is a frenzy of pitches, strategizing, and image meltdowns. Whether things are flowing smoothly or falling apart in front of me, I’m excited to be able to figure out the steps from chaos to harmony. Owning the process of rebuilding a tarnished brand or helping to build a brand to begin with sounds fun to me. I’m ready for both the sparkle in the eye of a client when things go well, or the yelling that ensues if things go poorly. Both give me a chance to refine, to throw away, and to start fresh.
I’m sure my future self would have a few things to say to this. I could say that above all else the human element of public relations is what makes it so alluring. My future self would probably warn me of this client or this reporter, shaking his head and wishing for a do-over. Or for me to bite the bullet and decide to go back to psychology. I’m optimistic that despite how crazy things will probably be starting out, that I’ll end up loving it. So future me, don’t shake your head too much while reading this. I’m at the start of a long road with no sense of what’s truly to come, and the map can only be read in reverse.