Your Career and You: "Yearning for Learning"

I just spent a remarkable three days in San Francisco at the Public Relations Society of America’s annual International Conference.

As usual, I came back home with a headful of information gleaned from the breakout sessions I attended as well as the countless encounters I had with other PR professionals attending the conference.
My undergrad Communication students at Curry College have a little difficulty wrapping their sleepy heads around this thing that I do so regularly.
“You’re a teacher, Kirk. Why do you spend your money and your time traveling to these things and then ‘all’ you do is sit in rooms and listen to other teachers?”
Logical enough question with a (in my mind) logical enough answer.
I can’t not be learning. Nor, apparently, can thousands of other like-minded souls.
I wasn’t always consciously like this. Back in prehistoric times…right after graduating from the University of Georgia (planned) and joining the Air Force (unplanned)…I thought I had checked off the “learning box” on my life’s resume.
But I started traveling to other parts of the world (Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Virginia) and realized that I was pretty ignorant when it came to “worldly affairs.”
This epiphany actually occurred when I got married and brought my foreign-born wife, who had…and still has…a thirst for knowledge and curiosity about life in general, back to mycountry.
I gradually realized that, as I was introducing her to America and American ways, I, too, was learning new stuff…and I liked it!
And so it began and continues…my seemingly never-ending quest for knowledge. I collected a couple more degrees in the process and ultimately earned my “APR” (Accredited inPublic Relations) designation from PRSA.

What I realized in the process, though, was that I wasn’t alone.
The more I went to PRSA and other organizations’ programs, the more I saw and interacted with others just like me.
In some cases…PRSA, for example…I see hundreds of familiar faces year after year, as well as hundreds more new faces…new “students” in the learning game.
They’re seasoned professionals as well as soon-to-be new practitioners. They’re from all parts of the US and from all over the world.
But they…we…all share a common trait…a yearning for learning that keeps us motivated and energized…and coming back for more.
That’s the great think about our profession. We are expected by clients or employers to either have the answers or know where to find them.

Complacent mental inertia doesn’t play a part in this…curiosity (something I also write about frequently) and a thirst for knowledge do.
In my world, there’s alwayssomething new to be discovered just around the corner or a bright shiny new object to figure out how to use.
As I indulge my curiosity and thirst, I find that I am better able to address the challenges of the modern-day world of communication…especially public relations. And I do so with confidence born of learning.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Remarks prepared for delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas [November 22, 1963]

About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Communication, Curry College, PRSA, public relations, Public Relations Society of America, Undergraduate Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Your Career and You: "Yearning for Learning"

  1. Kirk, I believe to be good at whatever you do, you must have that "yearning for learning" or you stagnate. One should never stop learning as new technologies and other advancements is continually moving all professions forward. As always, great storytelling in your posts. I really enjoy that.


  2. Thanks very much, Monica! And now I'm off to Curry College to teach…and to learn…once again! 🙂


  3. Pingback: Continuing Education…Is It “Learning” or “Information Overload”? | Deirdre Breakenridge

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