My earliest memory of my career aspirations stretches back to when I was 7. I entered a drawing competition at my local Credit Union and the topic was ‘What I want to be when I grow up’. At the age of 7 career ideas aren’t overly varied, usually ranging from a nurse, to a singer or maybe a hairdresser, but I was pretty confident that I wanted to be a superstar. With my goal in mind I drew a picture of myself on the red carpet. Despite being a shy and quiet child with no confidence whatsoever, I was pretty set on this path for myself and it was clear I had a creative mind, which ultimately led me to win the competition with £50 In my pocket.
Following my Credit Union success, I went on to win the drawing competition for the school magazine cover. I relished in my creativity and was constantly complimented by my peers and teachers for my flair. I was always able to develop and materialise my visions through drawings and would later on apply this attribute to writing. You would expect I would’ve taken an artistic route through school and university however; I was no Picasso. Through primary school I was never top of the class, but eventually found my brains in secondary school and excelled across the board. From my teen years I realised I was an academic person, I always wanted to succeed and enjoyed putting in hard work to subsequently reap the benefits and celebrate my achievements. Without realising, this mindset would stand me well in my future career aspirations.
I discovered Business Studies when I started my GCSEs and fell in love with the subject. It was a new world for me, and every aspect seemed so interesting, even the more maths-based topics such as Economics and Accounting. I always performed better in more literature and creative based subjects therefore, I immediately took interest in learning about marketing and public relations; this was the beginning of my journey to studying Communication Management and Public Relations (CMPR).
It wasn’t until I started studying CMPR and diving into jobs that I realised over the years I’d cultivated skills needed to succeed within the industry, however it also helped me to develop into a person I never thought I could be. As mentioned before, when I was younger, I lacked confidence and was very shy. These are typically qualities at the opposite spectrum of what makes a person suitable for a career in public relations. Through forcing myself to take up jobs which required exuding confidence and social skills, I grew into a person capable of taking on the world of PR. I found the potential within myself and learned to love meeting new people and making connections through the industry, something I did a lot of during my placement year.
Developing these new experiences and growing as a person has made me keen to see what else I am capable of which I’m yet to discover; this is something I feel embodies a career in public relations. Working in PR is always an uncertain journey. You don’t know what is coming your way next, whether it be media related, your next client, new skills and new experiences, this is why I want a career in public relations. I can constantly level up my skills and blossom into a newer and improved version of myself, which will hopefully always be as rewarding as the previous revelation. Every day is never the same within the PR industry, day-to-day jobs are different. Your next client has a different focus and brief from the previous and through working in this environment, I will be able to realign my work ethic and apply a different skill and new knowledge to achieve a happy client and hopefully a success story.
I mentioned that during secondary school I realised I was an academic person, I loved to succeed in every project or exam I laid my hands on. Through using my goal driven mindset, I feel I can contribute to great things in the public relations industry and dedicate a lot of time to creating the right campaign and message; a quality which is vital within PR. Flexibility and long hours are key to driving success in public relations. By utilising my passion for doing things well and overachieving, I believe one day I can launch a campaign which impacts the public and an organisation’s reputation positively. Knowing that these are the expectations I have set for myself; I want to become a part of an industry that recognises achievements and good work. I want to be able to turn on the news or read a newspaper and see a project I have worked on, then watch the feedback unravel and take pride in my contribution. Public Relations opens doors for people to combine personality qualities with intellectual to create a unique piece of work. This has always intrigued me, and I know this is the path I want to continue to pursue.
Along with developing key skills required for a career in public relations, I enjoy how dynamic and fast paced the job can be. I’ve met many people over the past 4 years with a career in public relations, but within different industries. The common advice they have all shared with me is how it’s a job with limited rest. You must always be prepared for something new to crop up, which is why it’s vital to keep up with trends. Luckily for me this is something I enjoy doing, I’m an avid social media user with profiles on multiple platforms. I use them to keep up to date with the latest news; whether it be political, social, entertainment, fashion, technology, maybe even football, especially if I see a lot of trends and my curiosity drags me there.
I feel like it’s hard for me to miss any trend, especially without my acknowledgement in some shape or form, whether it’s a simple like or retweet on Twitter. I always like to delve in deeper to huge trends or news stories on Twitter or Facebook, as it allows me to gather a greater understanding of what people from around the world are thinking and how their thought processes work. Being open to global public opinions, beliefs and views enables me to expand my knowledge and my social awareness. I am able create my own views and back them up with reasons offered by my own experience or those influenced by others whom have unknowingly educated me through the web. Building an awareness of what’s happening in the world is so important within public relations. You must always be ready to create a reactive or counter message to a breaking news story or recent internet trend, particularly to maintain a positive influence and potentially deal with any crises your client or organisation may face.
The reactive nature of public relations excites me. The ability to work with the media to discuss current news and public affairs is an opportunity which I look forward to in the future and hope to do a lot of. Not only will I be able to continue to strengthen my social skills and communication skills, I can create a better understanding of the world of media, which I see as a massive tool in what makes the world go around. Being stuck in the centre of this fast-paced world would be immense pressure. However, the thought of going into work and being able to talk to a variety of people from different organisations and media outlets, plus tackling something new every day is a driving factor in what motivates me towards entering a whirlwind career in public relations.
Despite my CV being full of work experience from customer service jobs, I still value them as they have allowed me to evolve skills which are frequently used in PR. I’ve worked with a variety of internal and external customers from different demographics, I understand how customer needs vary, I’ve assisted in delivering company promotions and I’ve developed a love for helping people and making a difference to their day through good customer service. Yes, all these examples are in the context of retail however, all these transferable skills and experiences have prepared me for a future career in public relations. I hope to one day be working in a public relations and influencer marketing team at a global cosmetics brand, but for now as I approach the end of my degree, I eagerly look forward to my future and what it holds for this potential PR practitioner.
Marie-Claire Leung is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Marie-Claire Leung