If I knew then what I know now

As my time at Auburn comes to an end, I find myself reflecting over the past four years more often than not. I think back to everything I was scared about that ended up working itself out.

I knew once I got to college, everything was going to be a pathway to my career. Except there was one tiny problem—I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. As a kid you get asked a million times, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You say a bunch of random answers like doctor, lawyer or teacher. No one really bats an eyelash, because you don’t have to cross that bridge for a while.

Then life sneaks up on you, and before you know it, you’re 18 years old and at that bridge. Now you have to start thinking about what career path is best for you. It’s easy to go the “money making” route and major in accounting, finance, engineering, pharmacy, etc.

The challenge comes when you’re someone like me. Math isn’t my forte, and science doesn’t interest me. I can’t stand the sight of blood, and I’m very squeamish. Writing is something I’ve always loved, and it was something I could see myself doing. But the challenge was finding the right career path that allowed me to do that. That was when I thought about pursuing a journalism degree. There were different kinds of journalism I could study, and I would get to write. It seemed like a win-win.

I had my major picked out before I left high school, and all I had to do was attend college. Like any recent high school graduate about to move away, there were a million different thoughts and concerns I had. What’s funny is that everything I was worried about as a senior in high school is so trivial compared to what I’m worried about now as a senior in college.

William_J._Samford_Hall(Photo credit: Flickr)

My first fear was whether or not I chose the right major. Everyone kept telling me that every college student changes his or her major at least once. I was naïve and thought I’d be the one student who doesn’t. Well…halfway through my freshman year of college, I learned I did choose the wrong major. Fortunately, I hadn’t even begun taking courses that pertained to my major, so none of the courses I had taken at that point were a waste. I came to Auburn as a journalism major but am now going to graduate with a public relations degree.

I always had a knack for business and marketing, but writing was my passion. Public relations allowed me to combine my passion with my strengths. When I learned more about the degree, I knew it was a better fit for me. I never questioned majoring in it, and I haven’t had any second thoughts. Whenever I tell anyone that’s my major, the first thing they say is, “I can see you in that field! It’s perfect for you!” And that’s one of the greatest compliments to me.

Public relations is a similar major to journalism, but there are big differences. In public relations, students have to take various business classes as part of the curriculum. They also have to work with actual clients in almost all the PR courses. From creating surveys to building websites to launching campaigns, there are a number of different projects that set us apart from the rest of the School of Communication and Journalism. I am more than satisfied with my change of majors and can honestly say I 100% love what I’m studying.

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My second fear was that I wouldn’t make any friends. I was lucky enough to have made lifelong friends at Auburn who made my time here the most memorable years. I made two best friends I can’t imagine my life without. Every friend I’ve made at Auburn—regardless of how casual or short—made my experience here unforgettable.

My third fear was gaining work experience. I knew that with my major, experience and a stacked resume is key. Not only did I land one internship, I landed three. My first internship was more of an outside experience not related to my major. However, it helped me grow as a person and professional. It was with Breakthrough Collaborative at their Birmingham site. Even though it was a teaching internship, it taught me valuable skills that can be applied to any field.

The second internship was more related to my major. It was with an inbound marketing and public relations agency right here in Auburn. This was my first taste of the PR world. From the get go, I was meeting with clients, producing content and handling big accounts. Because of this internship, I feel ready for my career and became certain I chose the right major.

My third and current internship is with Auburn Athletics. My absolute dream job is to be the publicist for a high-profile athlete, so this is right up my alley. I have gotten to participate in National Signing Day and had the opportunity to work at Auburn Athletics events. I’m currently nearing the halfway point of my internship here, but there’s still a lot more left that I’ll be doing.

1(Photo credit: Mohsina Yusuf)

If 18-year-old me knew that 22-year-old me would have three internships on my resume, including one with Auburn Athletics, I would have never wasted my energy being worried about it. If I knew that I would make new friends who made me wish I knew them when I was 18, I would have never been worried about it.

Instead, I should have worried more about the right clubs and organizations to join. I should have gotten more involved with different networking opportunities. Maybe I wouldn’t be so worried about finding a job in a matter of months during my last semester of college. I wish I would have figured out what I wanted to minor in sooner, so that I wasn’t taking 18 hours my first semester of senior year just trying to play catch up on all the courses for that minor.

Everything worked out the way it was supposed to, and I’m certain everything will continue to work out. I wish I could go back and tell 18-year-old me, “Don’t stress about it. These next four years are about to be the best four of your life.”


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