Your Career and You: “It All Starts Somewhere”


Publication1It seems like a lot of my conversations with students at Curry College, where I teach most of the Public Relations courses in our undergraduate Communication major, lead off with the question “Where do I start?”

Most of the time they’re talking about their job or internship search. But occasionally we’re talking about their future at Curry…what should they study…what’s best for them and their interests…should they stay at Curry??

I often assure (or perhaps frighten) them that we all have had to start somewhere…that there are no cleanly and clearly marked roadmaps to show them the way.

But there is guidance available:

  • There are personal examples, which I share willingly and readily.
  • There are the experiences of others just like them who have gone before them.

And sometimes they just have to forge their own path.

Whatever the case, my message always contains the reassurance that they’re not in this alone…that we all (or at least some of us) started out unsure of ourselves and where we thought we should be heading.

I’ve told my own story countless times…

  • Started out wanting to be a civil engineer building highways and bridges.
  • That idea didn’t work out so well, so switched to English thinking I would be a college professor (note: this was 1966!).
  • Wound up after college in the Air Force first as an English language instructor, then as an audiovisual specialist.
  • Stumbled upon the concept of public relations and the rest, as the saying goes, “is history.”

The funny (probably better said as “ironic”) thing is, I had no one to show me the way until I got into the Army’s public affairs intern program. I just made it up as I went along.

Thinking back on it, until I moved to New England and subsequently joined the Public Relations Society of America’s (then) New England Chapter…now Boston ChapterI did not know one single soul outside of the military who worked in the public relations arena!

But that was then, and that was me.

Today, I would argue, is better. College students today have more resources to call on, from professors like myself who have spent a substantial amount of time working in a particular profession to others…career services folks in particular who keep their fingers on the pulse of the business community-at-large but also alumni who are ready, willing, and able to talk about their own experiences and lessons learned.

But it all has to start somewhere…asking questions…listening to advice…following up on recommendations…taking action.

There will be, as I so often caution, bumps in the road that threaten to derail plans. There will be opportunities that, on the surface, seem ideal…until you actually “see how the sausage is made.” But it all counts. It’s experience. It’s lessons learned. It’s life.

And it all has to start somewhere. Have you started??

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3 Comments

  1. Elexis Hill

    This post is definitely accurate for my current situation. I am senior at Southeast Missouri State University. I find myself constantly worrying about what my next steps will be or if I even declared the right major (I’m public relations major). I get so wrapped up in my personal emotions and problems that I forget I am not alone. Most of my classmates and friends are experience the same thing. It just becomes overwhelming from trying to listen to the experts’ advice, family advice and at the same time staying true to yourself and what you have a passion for.
    I do feel that I have a number of resources that are available for advice and recommendations. Most of my professors are willing to talk during office hours and even share their personal stories during a lecture which helps a lot. Now I’m starting to understand it’s all about taking action. Not many people will have a smooth path and land that perfect job from the start. However, as long as we start somewhere and never give up there are no limitations to the goals that can be reached. I’ve had many breakdowns leading up to my senior year and I’m sure I may have more, which is normal. I just have to continue to strive for the best and continue to understand it’s all about starting.

    • Welcome to “my” world, Elexis! Every day truly is a challenging new experience, and there are at least a bazillion people ready to offer advice…sometimes a bit too eagerly! It does, from time, seem a bit overwhelming, and there still are times when I just want to take my teddy bear and sit in a corner somewhere.

      But, in the end, it all comes together, and you find yourself looking back and saying, “Wow, that was kind of cool!”

      It sounds like you’re on a good track to success, and I congratulate you for that. I look forward to hearing wonderful things in future about your accomplishments!

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