Communications v. Public Relations / My Degree v. Experience

(courtesy of careersearchtoday.com)

(courtesy of careersearchtoday.com)

Are you trying to figure out where you want to go in life or what it is you want to do?

Trying to find a career, or even just declare your major can be tough when everything seems so narrowed or vague.  

I am coming to point in my life where I am trying to find a job in the “real world.” As I am starting to look at job descriptions I am finding that the career I want and the degree I have aren’t quite matching up.

I am a communication major and I am scheduled to graduate in April. Recently, I have been digging in deep to start my big job search.

I want to become an events coordinator, and am starting to wonder if my communication degree is going to cut it. Event coordinators I have talked to are all public relations majors and almost all of the job postings call for a degree in public relations.

Is this really going to cut my chances of making it? Honestly, how do public relations majors and a communications majors differ?

As I started to dig even deeper into this mess I am realizing that the biggest difference is the writing aspect.

When you look at the classes required for the degree in public relations at EMU, there are several writing intensive journalism classes.

As for a communication degree, there are a more rounded group of classes such as public speaking, business communications, interpersonal communications, etc.

All of these classes are connected in some way or another and all focus on ways to communicate with one another, whether it is written communication or verbal communication.

If you are interested in whether you would be better off with a communication degree or a public relation degree, I think you should research the job field you want to be in and research the degree your interested in.

For example, I am interested in perusing an event coordinating position and I feel that you need to be better rounded in the communication area because you are communicating with people in so many different ways.

However, I don’t think taking a few public relations classes would hurt any, if anything it will show your involvement with both areas and this can only make you more valuable as a whole.

Doing more research on this topic, I have found that many professors and professional websites encourage experience, experience, experience!

I have had many professors tell me that your degree is there to tell an employer that you are educated and that an internship, volunteer, organizational involvement or a job tells them that you are actually capable of doing the job.  

So working internships and volunteering in the field you wish to work in can be a great way to set yourself apart when it comes to the job hunt!

Lisa McClees
Vice President of Special Events & Programs
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4 responses to “Communications v. Public Relations / My Degree v. Experience

  1. I am finding that as I approach graduation, myself I am filled with panic deeply rooted in those same concerns. My degree is Language, Literature and Writing with a minor in journalism and I am currently taking my first PR class for JRNL credit. In my time studying journalism I have learned one thing: be well rounded. Anyone I encounter in the English department has a laundry list of degrees and experiences and somehow they all equate to where they are today. As much as I want to stress about the experience I may or may not have I have to talk myself down. Each experience you have will add to your marketability because at the least your employer will see you are adaptable and versatile, both desire able traits in this market.

  2. I am a term a way from graduating I found you learn more about yourself when you are in a jobs and internships vs. classes. Classes are a broad look at an industry or job shown to you by a teacher. However, it is the first hand experience that reveals what you truly like and dislike or what you find fulfilling in your job. Journalism is an interesting major because it encompasses a wide range of jobs.

  3. I just finished my 1st semester of college, I too am wanting to be an event coordinator, and my major is currently Communications, do you suggest I switch to PR?

    • Switching to PR may be a good call if that is the degree that is required for many job postings. But also having event planning experience can help out as well if you do not want to switch your major. Look for an event planning internship or run for an event planning e-board position of a student org on campus. As you are only in your first semester you still have time to decide. Talk to a career advisor and your program advisor, they will be able to help you out in deciding what is the best route for your career.

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