From a senior to the undecided: why Public Relations was right for me.

Dear Undecided,

I have wanted to go to law school since I was in high school. I always dreamed of rocking an awesome suit, standing in the courtroom and yelling out objections to opposing counsel. Yet, though I dreamed big, I always dreamed realistically. I have heard more horror stories than I would like to remember about how challenging law school is. I do believe I will make it, but my freshman year of college I decided I needed a major that would prepare me to succeed in law school, but also be able to catch my fall if it didn’t. As a high school student who loved organizing events and was addicted to all aspects of social media, I decided public relations was the right path for me. After researching the major I was confident that it would give me the reading, writing and speaking abilities I needed to be a successful lawyer. Plus, it would be a great career path if I needed to deviate from my path to the courtroom. I was so proud of my research and decision that I giddily walked into my living room to tell my parents.

I remember my dad looking me dead in the eye and saying to me, “Okay, well let’s hope law school works out because you know PR people are always the first to get fired when the economy goes south.”

I am directly quoting that because he ACTUALLY said that to me! I was crushed. My dad CLEARLY didn’t know anything. Little did I know, that was not going to be the last time words like that came out of someone’s mouth when I tell them my major is public relations. For some reason, when you say public relations everyone thinks you’re either going to be a party planner in New York or cover up companies horrific scandals…there really is no in-between.

So, from a decided student to an undecided on here is a list of things you should know about the wonderful, frustrating, fascinating and fast-paced world of public relations.

1.Public relations is more than just sending out tweets and posting Instagrams

Often, people will try to put public relations in a tiny box. You will not just be a social media guru, or a one event planner or even just a writer. Public relations works to teach you how to excel in many facets of the communications world. In a typical public relations internship or job you will be responsible for writing press releases, posting on social media, graphic/website design, event planning and communicating with media. This job is great for people who like to learn new things because you wear a different hat almost every day.

2.Public relations can give you so many amazing connections

If there is one thing public relations people know how to do, it is connect. The amount of connections I made during my time as a PR major is astounding. I was able to travel to London for a PR study abroad program where I was able to visit firms such as Edelman PR and make some amazing friends. Everyone we met during our trip gave us cards to contact them, and I know a few girls from the program that have used those connections to their advantage. I am also the Public Relations Direc12398_1129894097022768_9137964173541534483_ntor for the Auburn University College Democrats and because of my role I have had the ability to meet, Lily Ledbetter, Alabama Democratic Chairwoman Nancy Worley, Alabama State Representative Patricia Todd, and even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

3.Public relations can be a great stepping stone

As I mentioned above, I will be going to law school next Fall. One of the main reasons that I was so successful in my law school search is that I was a public relations major. I have always been confident and talkative, but I wasn’t able to speak clearly and professionally in front of a crowd. I was always a good writer, but I wasn’t able to write in time crunches and I had no idea what AP style was. Thanks to my major, I was able to develop skills that I would never have developed on my own. Public relations challenges me every day to create top tier work because anything less is unacceptable.
4.Your internship requirement will make you a better Public relations professional

I remember being terrified on the first day of my internship. Although I felt prepared thanks to the classes I had taken, I didn’t know how well that preparation would transfer over to the real world. After a few weeks I learned the scary truth, my PR classes may have taught me the basics, but the working world takes a lot more practice.I had a 3.9 cumulative GPA  but I was getting called into my boss’s office about once a week because of errors I made in the work I was producing. I was filled with anxiety and self-doubt about my ability. The good news is that the pressure made me work harder and study differently. I got scolded less and less and improved my skills. Overall, the pressure from work experience made me better at my job and more confident.

5.People will try and tell you the work you do isn’t important…and that’s okay!

If I have learned one thing at college it is that everyone thinks that their major is harder, more time consuming and better suited for the real world than everyone else’s. Everyone wants to feel good about the job they are doing and sometimes that means just feeling better about y10416644_10154186775955247_7076442180751742371_nour major and/or career than the person you are talking to. What I will say is a major public relations was the right choice for me. It made me happy, made me a better writer and made me more confident. It allowed me to have a high GPA because I enjoyed the work and it connected me to people all over the country. I have held my own job, met fascinating people, solved public relations problems and traveled to Europe(shout out to the fab four pictured to the left, I love you ladies) thanks to my major. To me, that proves that the work I do is important and I have learned over the last four years that what you think about your future is really all that counts.

I wont lie to you… the major that you choose really doesn’t matter. What matters is the work you are willing to put into that major. Find something you are passionate about and go with it; no matter what your parents, friends or peers say. For me, the choice to be a public relations major was an easy one and if I could do it all again I would. I did what I loved and I hope you will too.

 

Love,

A Senior

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On the Tracks event to be held in Downtown Opelika

The 21st Biannual “On the Tracks Food and Wine Event” will be held on Saturday, April 15 in Downtown Opelika from 6 to 11 p.m. On the Tracks, sponsored by the Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau and the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, allows patrons to have wine, beer and food tastings inside all of the participating shops in downtown Opelika. The event, now in its 11th year, was started by Pam Powers-Smith and Richard Patton and is hosted by Opelika Main Street.

“The event started because we wanted to provide an opportunity to actually see our stores,” said event creator, Pam Powers-Smith. “We used to have events such as concerts and people would just hang out outside, which is great, but we really wanted to expose people to what downtown really had to offer.”RZ8P0039 for web

On the Tracks, which is open to all ages, draws about 2,500 to historic downtown Opelika by providing a fun and engaging evening that shows off all Opelika has to offer. Aside from just partaking in the food and wine tasting, guests can enjoy shopping in the participating downtown shops, eating at the local restaurants or listening to the live band, Alabama Avenue. All of the participating shops and restaurants will be open late so guests can utilize them for the entirety of the event.

On the Tracks is set up to be flexible to represent the relaxed nature of downtown Opelika. You can purchase individual tickets or you have the option to buy a group tent. This includes a table and 10 chairs for $350. The tent and table give you an opportunity to rest, eat and enjoy music while soaking in beauty of downtown. Although you need a ticket for the food and wine tasting, you do not need a ticket to explore downtown Opelika that evening.

“My favorite part [of On the Tracks] is the atmosphere of the event. It is difficult to explain unless you come and see for yourself, but I always notice people meeting new friends, seeing old friends and enjoying the evening. I like seeing people strolling in the street looking around at their leisure but also enjoying food and wine at the same time, so it’s really the best of both worlds,” Powers-Smith said.
On the Tracks
Advance tickets for the tasting trail are $25 and may be purchased at OntheTracks.org, FlipFlop Foto or Verge Pipe Media. Tickets are also available at the event. All ticket proceeds are in support of Downtown Opelika and come with a keepsake wine glass! For more information, contact Powers-Smith at info@opelikamainstreet.org, call (334) 745-0466 or visit OntheTracks.org.

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How the Young Women Leaders Program Changed my Life

My freshman and sophomore year are Auburn were more challenging that I had expected them to be. Not so much dealing with academics, but dealing with the emotional transition of going to college out of state was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. In high school, I was in as many clubs as I could handle at one time, everyone at school knew me, and I measured my success by how busy I was. When I came to Auburn I became a big fish in a small pond. My only extra curricular activity was my social sorority and I felt like I was trying to fit into a mold that I didn’t belong in. Then, one fateful day I was lost in the Haley Center and stumbled upon a flyer that read “ Join the Young Women Leader Program.”

The Young Woman Leaders Program is a mentoring program that pairs 7th grade girls at Auburn Junior High with college women. I had mentored before and really enjoyed it so I decided to interview. After I was accepted, I was put on a track that would alter my entire life. Every Monday I met in a classroom with all of the other mentors, who were referred to as “big sisters”, where we learned about adolescent development. 12745528_10153397980242742_3053727826435496664_nWe were educated about the differences that girl and boys experience at school and spoke in detail about how to empower young women. I learned that being a mentor is not about giving advice or “fixing someone” but rather its giving them the tools to help themselves and supporting them along the way. After class I would meet with my small group, which was composed of five other big sisters and two undergraduate facilitators. We planned our weekly lessons and spoke about how our relationship with our little was going. The next day, we would meet with our little sisters at the junior high and do a lesson. These lessons usually touch on things like relationships, anger management, good decision-making and being a leader. In addition from all of this I got to spend at least one hour a week with my amazing little sister to just hang out.

When I started to grow in the program I finally had back that feeling of being busy that I had been yearning for, but this felt so much better because my busy schedule was filled with purpose. I knew that every meeting meant something more than a mark on my weekly planner or a bullet point on a resume; it was bigger than anything I had every done before. A year after the program ended I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave so I continued on to become an undergraduate facilitator, which allows me to mentor five new bigs and their little sisters. I also am still close with my little sister. Even though I am no longer required by the program to spend time with her, I still drive her to school once a week and occasionally hang out with her on weekends. She will be a part of my life for as long as she wants to be and for that I am so grateful.

YWLP was truly a life ch12729390_10153397980272742_8121914802165992_nanging experience for me. I went into it thinking that I would just be hanging out with a girl and I may teach her some lessons along the way; it ended up being so much more than that. Not only did my little sister teach me about dedication, patience, and understanding, but the YWLP program led me to people that I would otherwise have never met on this campus. It has shaped me into a strong, and independent woman who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. It has encouraged me to speak out about women’s rights, led me to work as an ambassador to Women’s Resource Center and solidified my desire to focus on Poverty law when I attend Emory Law next Fall.

Being a mentor is not for everyone. It requires a ton of dedication and more patience than you would think. But, if you are willing to put in the work, it can open so many doors, and maybe even change your life. If you are interested in applying to be a big sister in the Young Women Leaders Program you can go to https://cws.auburn.edu/wc/cm/YWLP or email ywlp@auburn.edu.

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