I’m in my third year of working towards my degree in Public Relations and often, to this day, when I explain what I am studying I am met with a look of blankness or a simple exclamation of: “Oh, I didn’t know that was a degree!”
But how did I get here?
From the very beginning
I’ve always been a lover of words. Since I was tiny, I have been intrigued by the act of writing. From as young as just a few years old, I would sit at a desk with my Grandpa as I practiced how to hold a pen and trace dot-to-dot letters. Fast forward a few years, and I began to write stories and poems, and each year at Christmas and on birthdays I would receive book after book. I loved escaping to other worlds. One of my favourite childhood books was Inkheart, a tale of a man and his daughter. Whenever he read a story out loud, someone from the book would be whisked out into the ‘real’ world, but when this happened, they were replaced. His daughter ended up living in the alternate world, which sums up how I felt about books. I could become absorbed in them. The opportunities that came with stories were endlessly fascinating to me.
Further education… What next?
After I began my A-Levels, like many others I didn’t really have a clue what Public Relations was, so why would I do a degree in it? (I am intending to write a blog about the lack of PR careers advice in the future, too.)
I was lucky in that I knew that my passions lay in the third sector, but was also very aware that working in fundraising wasn’t for me. At that point, fundraising was a hobby of mine and I decided that I’d prefer to keep it that way.
I fell into PR quite by accident. I was attending a parliamentary reception with Meningitis Now when I met one of their PR and communications staff. The charity had just gone through a merger and Nic had smuggled me in a hoodie, which meant I then got talking to her about her role: branding, writing, reputation management. I loved writing, I loved meeting with and talking to new people and I was passionate about the third sector. I decided charity PR was the perfect fit.
I finished my A-Levels in English, History and Sociology, attended many open days and made my decision.
I was heading to Leeds Beckett to begin my degree in PR.
Creativity and business – an unusual mix?
Since I began my studies at Leeds, I’ve been actively trying to put myself out there. In my first year, I emailed pretty much every charity in the city to try and find some work experience and was over the moon when I got a response from a national charity called Heart Research UK. I volunteered there for a day a week for the next year, helping out with writing digital copy, press releases and organising events. It was such a formative time for me and brilliant experience which motivated me to achieve to the best of my ability, both through academia and practical experience. I’ve had many other placements too, including in a digital agency.
My degree has provided me, so far, with a strong theoretical underpinning of PR which I think is necessary in order to see it as the strategic function it can be, whilst the experience I’ve been completing alongside it gives me the practical skills and attitude needed to succeed in a career in PR and comms. I am a strong advocate for undertaking placements where possible while at university and feel that they shouldn’t be undervalued.
I’m currently on a placement year that I love, which is providing me with new, challenging opportunities on a regular basis and the need to reflect for my university essays is allowing me to consolidate my learning and grow as a communicator.
It’s such an exciting time to be at the beginning of my career into communications, an industry that I’m already growing to love.
How did you get into PR? Let me know by commenting, or follow me on Twitter.