By: Senior, April Wood
As I approached and finally entered the last year of my undergraduate degree, one question became an uncomfortably looming presence – What do I want to do with my life (and my degree)?
The truth is – I’m still looking. But I’d love to share my thought process so far.
In figuring this out, I decided to approach it with the wisdom I have gained from the UCM PR Program and its professors. I formed a rough vision of my ideal life. I took note of the values and morals I held. I also focused on what made me happy.
I asked myself questions; What do I enjoy doing? Where do I enjoy being? Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I want my work life balance to be like? What job will challenge my knowledge and experience with all of my favorite skills?
The answer is: I’m only 22.
If my life is in the form of the ROPE process, I’m still in the research phase. I’m in the bulk of that work now, and in one of the busiest times of life.
I’m reaching the verge of the objectives phase.
Values that solidified during the research and analysis stage will be present throughout the entire rest of the process.
Below is just a little more insight into my journey specifically and how I applied my skills gained during my undergraduate years in planning my future.
I enjoy embracing a challenge, but I love embracing one of my own creation.
Having control over my schedule is also a must I flagged. I need the flexibility due for several reasons. I enjoy learning, planning, and analyzing.
More and more, It seemed like starting a small business could be a solid goal for me. I’ve decided to tentatively embrace the idea – pending A LOT of time and work.
I’ve begun researching flipping houses as one potential small business idea. It’s a business concept that has always fascinated me. I enjoy creating and designing, I’m not afraid to pick up a tool, and I have a wealth of business, finance, and strategic communications knowledge.
I have experts and mentors to support me, a network of connections I have spent my young adult life cultivating, and I will soon have a Public Relations and Strategic Communications degree with a minor in Finance. I have a solid foundation of knowledge of how a business runs, how to make financing decisions, how to communicate to an audience, and how to develop a brand.
This plan is obviously going to take years of learning and saving.
What am I doing now to progress towards my goal?
Right now, I’m working to further develop my skills and gain as much knowledge and experience I can. I believe in life-long learning, which makes me versatile and driven. After graduation, I’ll aim to find a job opportunity to continue learning while saving money.
Ultimately, I just want to have a happy and secure life. If I can do it by running my own business, great, if I fail – it’s not a waste. Part of being a lifelong learner is never failing to learn something from a success or mistake.
So, this is what I HOPE to do with my degree – at some point, and maybe not forever. I’m just eager to see what life has to offer.
By: Sebastian Szczurowski
When I look back at my time at the University of Central Missouri I can’t help but to think about how fast it all went by. It seems like it was just yesterday that I made my first official visit to the university for my scheduled orientation day. When I first made the decision to major in public relations I really didn’t know what to expect from it or what I would gain from it in the future. Ever since I first decided to pursue a college education I knew that I was either going to major in some business or marketing-related field because those two industries always piqued my interest.
When I completed my two-year tenure in community college and was looking to transfer to a four -year university I received an email from UCM’s Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies advertising the public relations program. When I saw it I didn’t think much of it because my sights were set on becoming a marketing major and I had no prior interest in pursuing a degree in public relations. But, I decided to look more into it just out of pure curiosity. That’s when I discovered that the Harmon College was one of the most highly accredited business colleges in Missouri and I read nothing but good reviews about it from previous students who graduated from the college. That is when I decided to delve deeper into it and reach out to one of the public relations program’s leading professors.
After exchanging a series of emails with them I wanted to travel to the university to do a campus tour and meet some of the public relations professors in person. After completing my general campus visit I met up with one of the heads of the public relations department and had a very productive conversation with them about what to expect from the program and the types of courses they offer for the major. Many of the classes sounded very interesting to me and I knew from that day on that I was fully committed to the public relations program.
Throughout my time as a student in this program I was able to learn the ins and outs of the public relations industry and was fortunate enough to have been taught by some of the most passionate and driven professors. I had the opportunity to learn many useful skills such as the proper ways to gather and conduct research and how to write strategic public relations plans in a professional manner. I was grateful to have had such supportive professors to help guide me through the program at my own pace and provide me with the necessary tools needed for me to succeed.
With graduation fast approaching, I reminisce about all the knowledge I was able to gain about the industry and the amazing people with whom I had the opportunity to network.. Now, as I look ahead and begin applying for jobs after graduation, I feel more confident in myself and my abilities as a professional because of all the great mentors I encountered at UCM on my educational path. Majoring in public relations has allowed me to gain extensive knowledge and skill sets in communication, technical writing, organization, strategic writing and much more. I can now confidently say that I’m ready to take on whatever career comes my way and use the skills that I attained in a real-world setting.
By: Elizabeth Ewell
Mental Health Issues have become one of the leading common deaths in America. Mental health is often a topic that is shunned or embarrassing to discuss. Some take mental health issues as a joke, and some are not afraid to speak out about the issue. Still, there are more who pay no attention to mental health and do not take it as serious as it should be. The respect level for those who are aware that they have a mental health issue is also low.
I myself have struggled with my mental health this semester, which is not something I would have been comfortable sharing a year or so ago. I often overwork myself and am, frankly, hard on myself. I am a go-getter, independent, and a perfectionist. I have worked my way through college all four years, and at one point worked three jobs to sustain and reach goals I had set for myself. I was involved in a lot of activities on campus and often spread myself too thin. I felt as though that if I said no, I was hindering myself or missing out on great opportunities, when the truth was I did more than enough with what I could handle throughout my last four years. I was blessed with opportunities of a lifetime, held high positions in organizations, and made lifetime connections with professionals and peers through the work I did on campus.
However, I spread myself too thin again this semester, and have honestly found myself struggling to keep up with schoolwork and my actual job. Personal issues have also caused tremendous stress on me, and I felt super overwhelmed. I got to a point where I needed a break, or I was going to have a mental breakdown. I had not focused on myself and had not been properly taking care of my mental wellbeing. I was mentally and physically exhausted.
Public Relations was listed as the sixth most stressful career in America according to Career Cast.
In a recent article written by Paul Sutton, Five Solutions to Stress, Anxiety & Depression, in Public Relations 60% of PR professionals say they are ‘stressed’ or ‘very stressed’ at work.
‘Thirty percent (30%) of public relations professionals have also expressed that they are somewhat happy at work or not happy at work.’ (CareerCast)
Why are so many unhappy in public relations?
Glean info details that PR professionals are stressed because of “tight deadlines, unreasonable clients, a constantly changing media landscape, confrontational reporters and a cynical public. The challenge of proving the benefits of PR to clients and corporate managers can also cause anxiety.”
Many also expect public relations to give an exact result, like advertising, which is not the case. The misunderstanding of public relations causes a lot of conflicts which causes stress.
Public relations courses require a lot of critical thinking, focus, time, and research, to plan and execute work, just like a PR professional job. If you do not follow these strategies to meet deadlines, you will not be successful in PR. Due to my mental health suffering, I was not doing any of those things, causing me to fall behind badly on my work. Had I not been honest with my professor, it could have hindered my entire semester.
How can we solve these issues?
What if I had not spoken up? I would have had many missed assignments in the grade book, a failing grade, or worse I would have failed the course which would’ve hindered me from graduating in the fall. The first step is acceptance with ourselves and acknowledge that you may be suffering from some sort of mental issue.
Next, talk to your employer about your health, and be open and honest. Your employer cannot fire you for expressing the stress you may have due to the job, or because you may not be mentally healthy at the moment. You should express concern if you receive judgment on your mental state of mind. Your well-being is not humorous and should be important to your employer. Telling your truth to your employer will help you in the end.
Ask for Help
Seek help from a professional. Sometimes your job might even compensate you for your visit. Professionals could teach you how to cope with working under pressure and minimizing stress for yourself with your job. In the field of public relations, no day is the same and you often are thrown curveballs; knowing how to deal with stress is important to be happy in this career.
Be Honest and Don’t be Afraid to Take Breaks
Again, be honest about your health, speak about your issues and take a break or vacation from work, if in dire need. Taking breaks can bring peace to your life and help you think clearly. Many jobs will allow you to take a temporary leave of absence for a certain period of time. This break can give you the peace of mind you need to get back in action and start “killing it” in your career.
Normalize Mental Health in the Workplace
Employers should make sure mental health is an important topic to discuss openly with their employees.
Today many employers bring in professionals on mental health and host workshops on the issue. Knowing your organization cares about the mental wellbeing of their staff can make it more comfortable for an employee to discuss their health to their employer. If your organization does not openly discuss mental health, maybe suggest some of the ideas above to create awareness of the issue in your workplace.
Be okay with saying no to additional tasks because of stress. If you cannot handle additional work, it’s better to not do the work than to do work wrong or not of good quality. Instead, ask for smaller roles until you feel stable enough to handle your regular full workload.
Public Relations is a demanding, but exhilarating job, so making sure you take care of your mental health is a major priority to be successful in this career. Do not be afraid to use your voice, because your health matters!