My path to Advertising and Public Relations was less than traditional. I was not a student that walked into college knowing my exact plan and career vision, and that was proven as I switched my major three times before my junior year of college. As a previous journalism major preparing to switch majors the hesitation and fear of wasted money and time were real. The idea that these skills I have worked hard on in my previous non AD/PR classes would be seen as useless. 

As a current senior in college preparing to graduate within four years, I can assure you the diverse skill set you hold from previous major classes is anything but useless. It is what will make you stand out as a young professional. Whether you are between majors, undecided, or trying to figure out how these skills work into your career, I will reassure you how you can use your previous major to your advantage. 

Unique skillset: 

Many times we see our previous major choice as a waste of time or credits. I am here to reassure you that it gives you a unique set of skills that differentiates you from other young professionals. As a previous journalism major, I took countless classes in television media production, video editing, and news reporting. A skill set that allowed me to understand from both a journalistic and public relation standpoint. I could transfer my skill set from previous major classes to give me a unique perspective in my advertising and public relations program that allowed me to use these skills to my advantage to succeed in my new program.

Diverse resume: 

Although we may be hesitant to add our previous major skills to our resume, I encourage you to break down your classes and see the skill set and knowledge you gained. However, you may question how a course in accounting or broadcast II may be of use to you now—understanding that each skill or concept you learned can be added to your ‘Additional Skills’ section of your resume.  It can be used as a unique conversation in future career interviews or internships, showcasing the ability to adapt and think critically in various industries and how it fuels your passion for the AD/PR field.

Keep in touch with your network:

Keeping in touch with your professors and other students from previous majors is valuable. The public relations field spreads across almost every industry. I still keep in touch with my journalism professors as a small network; they serve as a part of my reference lists for job applications and mentors to connect me with others in various fields. Keep in touch because you never know who they could connect you with in the future. 

Tips for a smooth transition: 

Here are tips I utilized to prepare myself before I took the jump into advertising and public relations and to ease the stress: 

  • Speak with your current advisor. Talk about the steps that are needed for you to graduate in your current time frame. Make a plan of action to ensure that you are making the correct steps for you. 
  • Network with professors and other students in your field of interest. I sat down with advisors in the advertising and public relations program to talk about courses, careers, and expectations in my program. 
  • Attend club meetings for your major of interest. I attended my first PRSSA meeting at the end of my sophomore year. It allowed me to hear from PR professionals and network with other students to understand the field and the GVSU program better. 

It is never too late: 

If anything I have learned from college and going into the public relations industry, it is never too late. Walking into my junior year of college with a fresh course load of advertising and public relations classes, it is important to remember to follow your passion. Take the time to speak with professors, students, and attend meetings before you make the change. It is doable. We all have a different path to success that makes us unique. Take the time to break down your previous classes to see the skills you can take to fuel your new major and career.

About the Author:

Caitlyn is a senior studying Advertising and Public Relations, with a minor in Digital Studies. This is her second year involved in PRSSA and her first year serving on GrandPR E-Board as the Media Director. Caitlyn plans one day to combine her passion for PR, event planning, and digital marketing to work on an integrated communication team within the sporting industry. In her free time, she likes to watch YouTube, create videos, and explore West Michigan. 

Twitter: @CaitlynWolter