Time for some reminiscing. Think back (for some of you, think way, way back). What led you to PR or journalism? Did you know you wanted to work in PR or journalism before college, or did you discover the field later in life? If the latter, what did you do before?
If I’m asking you to share your story, it’s only fair I share mine. I wrote for my high school newspaper and loved it. I edited our class yearbook in high school and loved it. I even spent my free time at home working on an underground newspaper (much harder in the days of typewriters) – which I also loved.
Despite all this love, I decided to major in Criminal Justice, Economic Crime Investigation (ECI for short) at Utica College of Syracuse University. When I made this decision, I had no idea “economic crime investigation” involved so much math. While all the accounting classes have come in handy over the years, it wasn’t for me and I switched my major to Public Relations & Journalism at the end of my sophomore year.
So what led me to PR and journalism? Less math. I literally flipped through the course catalog and found the major with the least math requirements for graduation. I was also interested in the “Journalism,” “Advertising,” and “Public Speaking” courses listed as core requirements. At the time I changed my major to “Public Relations & Journalism” (known affectionately as “PR/J” at Utica College), I had no idea what “public relations” was. Lucky for me, this major stuck and the rest – as they say – is history.
Then again, I have my doubts about whether I would have stuck with PR or journalism at a big school. I was lucky to be at a small school (most of my classes had about 20 students in them). We had fun professors who genuinely cared about the quality of education in the program and gave us a lot of practical, real-world experience. They made learning fun.
At the time, Utica College was the only school to mix students majoring in journalism and public relations together. Some majored in one or the other, while others like me majored in both. It doesn’t seem so weird today, but back then majoring in public relations and journalism sounded like an oxymoron. And you’ll note, this blog is about public relations and journalism – so the influence of Utica College of Syracuse University has clearly stuck.
One of my favorite memories of my “Introduction to Public Relations” course was having to pitch stories to other students. Our professor would brink in this old red phone and make PR majors pitch the journalism majors – in front of the class of course. Then he would turn the tables on us and make the journalism majors pitch the PR majors. We didn’t realize it at the time, but that one class exercise would be among the most practical preparation for our career.
While I could talk all day about the glory days, let’s go back to my original question… how did you end up in PR or journalism? Did you go to college for it, or did you switch careers later on? Did you start in PR and end up in journalism (or vice-versa)? Tell us your story!