It’s not a secret, I wave my “nerd” flag proudly.
Going back to school was one of the smartest decisions I ever made, not necessarily because going would provide me with a viable career alternative (it does, but not a career I want at this point), but because it allowed me to thrive and grow intellectually in a way that solidified where I want to go outside of academia. I did grad school for me. There was no ulterior motive to me getting my master’s – I was purely fueled by passion.
In grad school, I was immediately forced outside of my shell. In undergrad, you can hide in the back of lecture halls. You can write papers the night before and still do well. You can get away without ever raising your hand. This was not the case for grad school. I have never had to be more present, more active and more engaged in everything I was reading, writing and doing. It was in grad school that I found my voice (and then you couldn’t shut me up). I learned the value in being critical and yet flexible with my thoughts. I learned the value of being a dissenter.
I never went into grad school thinking that an M.A. in English would give me an “edge” in the corporate world, because, frankly, it doesn’t. As I said, I did it purely for self-gratification (*waves nerd flag yet again*). However, I also knew that going would leave a door open, which in many ways is more valuable than an “edge.” I don’t intend on teaching anytime soon, but should that become a desire, I can do so. If seeing the economy collapse taught me anything, it’s the value in having more than one “niche.”
And, while I was never more stressed and pressed for time than in grad school, I also had the blessing of grants and loans to keep me afloat. This meant that I was able to become more creative with the ways I made money. Instead of a full time corporate gig, I explored freelance writing jobs. Because I had also started my blog while in grad school, I then had an online resume of sorts. While this blog may seem like a place where I just curse and whine, it’s also proof that I’m invested in an online community of health activism and that I have a story (not to mention tons of opinions lol). This helped me land my first gig in the “health sphere” with Hungry Girl. From there, I was able to land a job in ghost-blogging for a celebrity. From there, I was able to do PR as a freelancer for health-focused companies.
When people ask me if they should major in x to get a job in x, I say “you can. but you don’t have to.” My biggest piece of advice for people wanting to get into a field is to find a way into that field immediately (this way you also know whether you really want it) and to be flexible (I’m pretty certain no one gets her dream job on her first try; and, even a dream job has to be consistently tweaked to maintain its benefits). I think the value of internships is underrated.
I think “passion” gets a lot of hype when recruiters tell applicants to be “passionate,” but that really doesn’t mean anything if that passion is not paired with action (what is passion without action?!). If you are passionate about something, you should be doing it, even if you’re not being paid for it at first, and even if you are not being paid what you want to be paid (at first). Chances are, you will soon enough be paid for it, and paid what you deserve, because true passion in invaluable to an employer (and to yourself!).
I think I’m rambling…
This whole series was to answer the question of how I got into PR. So to sum it up – I got into PR through internships. I got into health writing because I was passionate about it and started a blog. I started the blog in grad school where I had found my voice, and a flexible schedule.
PR has never been my passion in and of itself. Health writing (and writing in general) has been. And, I love helping businesses achieve their goals; but I cannot and will not do PR for companies I part with from an ethical standpoint. In other words, I couldn’t do PR for a company that hawks diet pills. The value, for me, in having multiple niches when finding jobs is that I have always had the luxury of choice.
I’m post-grad (*cries*). And doing PR and health writing full time. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that have landed before me, and for the ones I fought to come my way. I am also cognizant, as I mentioned in my first post, that things are different now for me – and for most of my end-of-20s Gen Yers – than they were at the beginning of my 20s and certainly differently than how I had envisioned. When I was 21, I had a 401k and employer-paid health insurance. And lots of financial perks. When the economy collapsed, those things went out the window. I remember a time when I was 26 and making as much per hour as I was making when I was 19. But I have also found freedom in the instability. I have found a person who values her principles and happiness over a stable job she hates. A fighter was born from the collapse, yo. I’ve also found more literal freedom in the recession mobile age. There are more ROWE companies and telecommuting positions.
And, if somewhere down the road, I decide I want to change things up, I can always go to teaching community college; or, get my PhD and teach university students.
Or … I can just finish writing my book and sustain myself (every blogger’s dream lol).
I know quite a few people who read my blog (thank you, by the way!) are in grad school or post-grad. What are your thoughts on career and life in the “real world,” esp. given the nature of the economy?
The Cranky One
Tags: Generation Y