University: The Third Edition

With the aim of forging a path to a future filled with success and happiness, settling on a university degree was possibly one of the most daunting and difficult decisions we, at the tender age of 17, were forced to make. However, the recurring questions of: “what is Communication Management and Public Relations?”, “what can you do with that when you graduate?”, and most common of them all: “whaaaaatttt the **** is that?” have echoed in my ear from the day and hour I accepted the offer on UCAS. There are times I feel like I can’t even walk down the Jordanstown mall without folks knowing I study that course that nobody can describe or explain.

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Before embarking on my undergraduate degree in Public Relations, I had spent the two previous years chancing my arm at two different courses: English and Journalism. However, anybody that has spent more than 42 seconds with me will know that I am almost incapable of making life-impacting decisions, and I was unsure whether I wanted to devote the next three years of my life studying either of these degrees. So, I threw the towel in, packed the bags, and I decided to pursue a new path. Again.

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I have always been an avid believer that good things happen to people who communicate eloquently, confidently and fluently, and the opportunities they have are boundless. Therefore, I have continuously been heavily reliant and focused on the way I communicate in order maximise the potential possibilities there are for myself, too. Brian Tracy describes communication as: “a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life”, which perfectly underscores the importance of it. The reason communication is so significant to me can be encapsulated in a quote by Shannon L. Adler (2018), which is: “When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.” Removing negative energy equates to a happy life, my friends.

As a very charismatic and vocal person, I haven’t been classified as “shy” too many times in the last decade or so. I took this with me all throughout school, and still utilise my boisterous personality to benefit my day-to-day life. My ability to communicate has always been something I took pride in, and I have used it to, as Adler phrased it, receive peace and deter from negative energy of fear and regret. Following this, communication has broadened and enhanced my social, personal and professional life. In my personal life, and especially in the last year, I have been surrounded by good, likeminded people who motivate me to keep making good choices and changes. Whereas, in my professional life, I have climbed the career ladder and now hold a supervisory position within an ostentatious restaurant, where I oversee more than 20 staff members; and no surprise, confidence and a high-quality level of effective communication gave me both of those positive outcomes.

 

So, why a career in Public Relations?

I was feeling similar emotions to Ross Gellar who feared being known for getting divorced, but instead, I was Dalez, and instead of divorcing, I was trialling and swiftly exiting undergraduate degrees like I wasn’t clocking up £20k debt.

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I became interested in Public Relations during my stint at studying Journalism, and it was here that I flourished in the written aspect of it. Throughout my school years my interests centralised on communication; verbal and written and it was in this that I thrived. Fortunately, this was an intricate component in Public Relations, which perhaps meant to me that this would be the one, and I wouldn’t be waving Jordanstown goodbye.

Before making the decision to study it, I did some research into what jobs were associated with Public Relations, (meanwhile, my Mum insisted it was offering cheaper entry into nightclubs and five Jägerbomb’s for a tenner), and then I investigated what other interpersonal skills I would need, coupled with a degree, to become successful. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations describes Public Relations as: “the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its public”, and as someone happy enough to “wet the ear” of anybody willing (or unwilling) to listen to what I have to say, PR is well-suited to my personality. This would also mean I would be able to strategically practise my expertise with oral and written communication to build and maintain long-lasting relationships with clients, suppliers, and partner organisations.

During my research, I uncovered that it is essential to be organised, with particular importance placed on the ability to multitask; and as somebody who has a generally busy social life, works full-time while also studying full-time, organisation is a skill I can assure you I have (even if I do rock up 10 minutes late from time to time). It is imperative for me to have a weekly to-do list and have my days mapped out beforehand, to help ensure that I complete each task I have set for myself; otherwise I’d become overwhelmed, quit my job, drop out of university, and continue my life on a different continent somewhere because of a meltdown which stemmed from a week of disorganisation. And it could happen yet, folks. Other sets of skills listed included strong teamwork and problem-solving skills; which are qualities I utilise on a day-to-day basis, leaving me confident enough to exude them professionally.

As well as this, Public Relations provides an extremely broad line of work, which was a crucial requirement for me while I was deciding whether to apply to my undergraduate degree and attaining a qualification which only benefited one specific field of work is exactly what I wanted to avoid. I did some research and found that the possibilities of work were plentiful within Public Relations; I was largely unaware of how extensive the prospects really were. “PR practitioners work across a range of industries and may work in any of the following settings: consumer, corporate, financial, local government, public affairs or trade and technical”. I had always feared that I would qualify and feel trapped within a job, but as Public Relations is so extensive, it would be possible to move within these interrelated industries and fields of work.

 

The Plans For The Future

Regardless whether I follow the path and end up in the Public Relations industry, I think the qualification will be beneficial for me within any job I pursue throughout my life. The knowledge gained in my undergraduate degree can, and has been, transferred to enhance my personal and professional life, as aforementioned. Ideally, I would like to become an entrepreneur and leader; and this coupled with an established blog, and knowledge in Public Relations would prove to be very valuable to a start-up business, where success can be tough – with 50% of new businesses failing “during the first five years”.

Currently employed as a social media manager for a renowned business, I already use and expand my skills I have attained from university to help aid the businesses marketing strategies online. The language, photographs and posts are all pre-empted in order to portray the business in a particular manner, which helps to maintain the respect and good relationship the company has already established with the clientele. This experience, with the background knowledge of Public Relations, marketing and advertising would all be useful in helping me solidify future decisions on how I would like to advertise and appear online, as social media presence is currently incredibly crucial.

With a passion and interest in writing; and more specifically, the conversational style of writing, a Public Relations degree would give me the professional information on effective communication that I would need to ensure that I could have a balance of expressing my own personality, while still appearing eloquent and well-versed. The possibilities for the future are endless, my pals, and maybe even the oul blogging will sky-rocket and take off now shortly due to the growing popularity and demand there is. If you have never had a story relayed to you by Dalez, have you really heard a story?

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Mark Daly is a Final Year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markdaly123/