From the classroom to the office

April 14, 2010

It’s been over eight months since we began our PR program. Have we learned anything we can take in the real world? Here are some things I have learned and some things I just realized while writing this:

  • News releases! This is probably the biggest one. I definitely can’t hammer one out in 10 minutes, but at least I know how to do one! We will have a huge advantage over students who never took the PR program and are trying to get into this field. We can also hack together features, bios, backgrounders, fact sheets and a million other pieces. Amy wasn’t lying when she said her writing classes were the most important; the majority of us will be facing these assignments daily. 
  • Public speaking. During my BA I had a few group presentations. But I usually tried to speak as little as possible and would be a nervous wreck the entire morning before I had to present. What the PR program has taught me is that I actually don’t mind public speaking. It’s very different when you have to speak in front of a group of people who you don’t know, and when you have to speak in front of a group of people who you know quite well and are friends with. I am much more comfortable presenting in front of my PR classmates than I was in any of my anonymous U of A classes. This is important because in the workplace, I will be presenting ideas and projects to people I know! So at least this is one area I won’t need to worry about!
  • An assortment of plans, including communications plans, media relations plans, IMC plans, etc. Contrary to what instructors will make you believe, we will not have to do these plans by ourselves in the workplace. And chances are, we will be led by someone who actually knows what they are doing, rather than a bunch of students trying to hack together something somewhat intelligent. Knowing that I know something about these plans, and the fact that the entire project won’t depend on my ideas, makes me confident that I can contribute some helpful ideas to my future team. 
  • InDesign and Photoshop. Don’t get me wrong, Digital Publishing terrified me at the start of last semester. The first semester was an absolute nightmare as I had no idea what was going on. Over time, I started getting the hang of it. It was less about following directions (which confused me more than helping me) and more of fiddling around with the programs by myself and figuring out how to do something. I can proudly say that I can Photoshop pictures of winos in Paris and throw together a not-too-shabby newsletter. For not knowing what InDesign even was eight months ago, I think I’ve come a long way. These skills probably won’t be important for the majority of us, but at least we can Photoshop funny pictures of our friends!
  • Handling difficult people. Seeing the same people every day for eight months has its ups and downs. For the most part, my classmates have been great. Instructors on the other hand, not so easy to tolerate. I know that there will always be people you don’t get along with, and working in a close environment with people you don’t see eye to eye with is helpful for your career. At least after eight months, we don’t have to see these people again if we choose not to. But at work, we will be stuck with our coworkers for a much longer period of time. Learning how to deal with opposing personalities is an important skill.
  • Oh and lastly, we are NOT spin doctors. Though I think some of us will be surprised with what we will have to deal with…


Spin doctors? Only time will tell!


Have you guys learned anything else that you think is important for our upcoming careers? If so, do tell!

Maya the Bee


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