By: Leah Rodriguez
For the past three years as a public relations student, I’ve learned a lot from my peers, professors, and mentors. Most of their lessons and lectures have prepared me for the “real world” after graduation, and I’ve gained the skills necessary to hopefully obtain a career after I cross the stage. Looking back on my years as a college student, it has come to my attention that I’ve taken away much more from the endless nights studying, cramming to get that paper finished, and attending conferences. My life as a PR student has taught me valuable life lessons that I’ll take with me from this point forward.
Life lesson #1: Time is money
If someone had told me that I’d be early to my 8:00 a.m. writing intensive class every Monday and Wednesday for 15 weeks, I’d call them a liar. It took one class period of tardiness to realize the value of time. My professor told me to think of it like this: “If I was your boss and you showed up to a meeting 15 minutes late, do you think that would fly? No, and you’re paying me to be here.” She was right. I was paying to be there, my future employer would be paying ME to be there, so be on time! There is nothing worse than having an employee who is unreliable.
Life lesson #2: What happens online DOESN’T stay online
There’s that saying, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” and here that rule does not apply. In my Fundamentals of Social Media course I learned the hard truths about becoming too comfortable with what I share online. When you create a profile on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, you’re inviting the world to view your personal thoughts, beliefs, and interests. Just because you set your privacy settings to “private” doesn’t mean people do not have access to your content. Be cautious about what you say and always conduct yourself in a professional manner, you never know who is watching.
Life lesson #3: First impressions are everything
After attending my fair share of conferences, workshops, and meetings with professionals around the area, I learned that a first impression is not only important, but it’s your golden ticket into potential job opportunities. If you know you are going to be meeting someone who has a job you would like to have, dress professionally, bring business cards and a resume, and always smile. Oftentimes people will remember you by the way you hold yourself in a public setting, so make sure you stand out.
Life lesson #4: You can never have too much knowledge
During an internship my superior told me something that shocked me, but I found to be comforting at the same time. She said “I do not know everything, I’m still learning, and truth be told I am going to learn just as much from you as you are from me.” This really put things into perspective. At first I was confused because I thought at her stage in her career she WOULD know everything, right? Wrong! There is no such thing as a “know it all” and in the real world people are constantly changing and adapting to new principles and techniques. Be humble and know that it is okay to admit when you do not have all of the answers.
Life lesson #5: Balance is key
While it may seem like having a life while you’re in college is impossible, graduation isn’t the gateway into having a “normal life” either. College has taught me how to balance my work life, schoolwork, and personal life. Once it’s all over there will become a need for balancing work and personal life. If anything my experience as a PR student has prepared me for this need for balance. If I’m able to concentrate on school and get a good GPA all four years, and still keep in touch with my best friends, I must be doing something right. Finding this balance is key to happiness and self-fulfillment. Without people in your life to share your success with there may be no pleasure in what you’re doing.
Leah Rodriguez is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. This is her second year on EMU PRSSA’s executive board, having served as VP of PR and VP of Special Events and Programs in 2014-2015. She is the social media intern for EMU’s College of Arts & Sciences, where she manages their Facebook and Twitter accounts.