A photo on Instagram taken of and posted by my friend/former Curry College student Samantha Valletta drove home for me the absolute need to love what you’re doing for a living. Samantha has multiple passions including theatre, dance, yoga…and public relations, and she’s having the time of her life juggling all of them. (And, yes, that’s the photo…used with her permission.)
One fringe benefit of my current life as coordinator of our Communication Department’s Public Relations Concentration is the opportunity to meet, study, and become friends with young men and women who are hell-bent on finding a career path that allows them to do something they really love doing.
Some actually wind up working in PR. Others head off on different paths, combining and using the multiple skills and interests that they have found in the course of their college life. And that is as it should be.
I always think of my younger brother, Jimmy, who initially studied law in college and built himself a very successful law practice afterwards. But his heart wasn’t completely in it and, after a number of years of “doing ‘okay’,” he made a radical change, earned his ministry degree, and the past 10 years have been for him, in my own biased opinion, “pure heaven” as Senior Pastor at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon, GA.
But it was a daring move on his part, and Jimmy was careful as he moved forward with this major shift in his life. He had the support and encouragement of his family, so that eased the load a little.
The lesson in this is pretty simple…and very complex.
Many people settle on and in a “job” that pays the bills, is socially acceptable, and offers some hope for a decent retirement. They go to work, do their job, and go home at the end of the day.
Others, either through careful planning or, as was the case with my own career, through sheer luck, find career paths that allow them to do something that gives them pleasure, allows them to use their skills, and pays the bills.
It doesn’t come quickly to all…took me 10 years to actually figure things out…but it will come. You just have to believe in yourself and believe that it will happen.
You have to do some “stuff” up front, though, if you want to have at least a decent shot at this.
If you’re in college, talk to your professors and your career services counselors about internship opportunities. Get started on this as soon as you can…internships help you figure out what you like to do as well as don’t like, what type of organization you like working for, what makes you happy.
If you’re in college or are graduated and are working but don’t feel like your current job is “it,” one word… “network.” Connect with the professional organizations (here in the Boston area, for communicators, it’s PRSA Boston, Publicity Club of New England, IABC Boston, AMA Boston, for starters). Attend meetings; meet people; find out what’s out there.
Yeah, I know. All of this sounds like work, and it is. But this is how you find the profession that fulfills your passion. As Nike likes to say, “Just do it!”