by Kerigan McNamara '17 I would have never imagined that I would change career paths just two semesters before graduation. I love PR, communication and all things digital media. I enjoy analyzing campaigns and appreciate a company’s superb social media presence more than the average person. On my fifth internship, I hold a fair amount of experience in planning events, managing social media accounts, building websites and coordinating media relations. I have truly appreciated and enjoyed every minute of it, especially the incredible mentors I have gained along the way. This past summer, a casual conversation with my parents in our kitchen ended in me revamping my senior year schedule in the matter of two days. I am still graduating with majors in public relations and health communication but it is not my goal to go directly into either of these fields. I am pursuing a master's degree in dietetics to become a registered dietitian by spring 2021. Yes, that is four more years of schooling. No, I do not regret majoring in PR whatsoever. Here are five reasons why I am thankful for my PR degree! I have refined my written and oral communication. This reason comes first because communication is universally essential! I’ve always enjoyed writing but ceaseless practice has taught me how to communicate far more effectively. I now know how to write for a target audience to capture their attention and leave an impression, public speaking does not intimidate me in the slightest, pitching ideas to the media is right up my alley and relationship building is my sweet raspberry chia jam (I promise that is the only nutrition reference in this post!). It has taken practice but altering my communication style to fit the circumstances at hand whether it is in person, writing or over the phone comes instinctively. Oh, and knowing how to use commas is a plus...turned pet peeve for those who forgot that they exist. Whether I go into writing for nutrition publications, become a spokeswoman on TV/radio/podcasts, blog as a dietitian or simply communicate to my clients, I have the tools to do it with strategy, compassion and AP style. I understand all the “behind-the-scenes work” that go into a brand. One thing I hear PR guest speakers consistently say is, “You can never act superior to anyone or anything. No task is ever too insignificant for your job description.” This could not be more true! I have had responsibilities that ranged in severity from greeting people at a pho restaurant for seven straight hours to having to nail my word choices as I communicated on behalf of an eating disorder center to not trigger the clients. There are endless details that go into a brand’s image and reputation so I hold much greater respect for all the efforts that go into building and maintaining it. No matter what field you go into, recognizing the hard work behind any person’s profession is so important. And who knows...maybe I will build my own brand someday as a dietitian! I can create goals as easily as my daily to-do list. My strategic thinking hasn’t always come naturally but after writing many strategic plans and SWOT analyses, I swear my brain now operates in a different manner! PR majors must be incredibly detailed, carefully attentive to the client/audience’s needs and complete thorough research before jumping into the planning phase. The end result to this strategy is hopefully growth so whether it is personally or professionally, I feel well-suited to write and execute goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. There is no doubt in my mind that this strength will be beneficial as a practicing dietitian when I am problem solving and creating plans for my clients. My involvement has greatly increased my professionalism. PR majors are practically forced to immerse themselves into on and off-campus experiences. Not only is it in our nature as people who like to socialize (and possibly put out all the fires we see) but our professors understand that there is only so much we can learn in the classroom. Just yesterday, I emailed a few PR professionals for our PRSSA Mixer on April 17, a Regional Development Representative for a nonprofit I am working with for an event tomorrow, Marketing Coordinator at a restaurant to organize a fundraising night, a woman who is coming on campus next month to give a guest talk and both advisors of the student organizations I am president of. My point is not that I can whip up professional emails as easily as I can text my best friend. But, I have continuous communication with people who are older than me and that I can learn from. Having many responsibilities in addition to coursework has been a huge part of how I have grown in my professional development. I am confident. This may seem like it is not related to PR but oh boy, it is. Looking back, my internship assignments and class projects have gone best when I was truly myself and did not hold any crazy idea back in brainstorming sessions with supervisors or peers. With a lot of teamwork, eagerness to learn and many late nights including Schneider’s and appreciation for FedEx Print Center’s 24-hour policy, I have learned endlessly about myself. My creative mind, strong work ethic, time management skills, flexibility in all situations (prepare yourself for this one, PR majors), willingness to take risks and appreciation for humor through it all is a part of who I am and what I pride myself on. I hope you, whoever you may be, find confidence in yourself through the people around you and the experiences that have shaped you.