Over the next few months, hundreds of thousands of newly minted college graduates will step boldly, or nervously, into the workforce.
When I graduated from Carleton College 24 years ago, I worried that I knew too little about the job landscape. I remember concern circulating among my peers our senior year that we hadn't learned enough about “real life.” I had analyzed 18th century English poetry, studied the impact of Gandhi on the Indian political landscape, and considered the myth of the American West, but was that enough?
After four years of writing, reading, researching, analyzing and learning how to be a critical thinker, I didn't have a vocational bone in my body. Public relations? Never heard of it.
But when I stumbled onto public relations a year after graduating (via the usual slew of informational interviews), I found my calling. And I've since decided that my liberal arts degree, my history major, was actually perfect training for a communications career. I was trained not to take things at face value and to build storylines (theses) that were persuasive and influential. As it happens, storytelling and influence are the PR professional's stock in trade. Even amid all the vast change in the field of PR over the past 20 years, those core strengths still form the foundation of every client engagement.
So although “communications or similar major preferred” may still be the default job requirement for PR jobs, I often find myself seeking out liberal arts grads, my kindred spirits, who have been encouraged to challenge, debate, and write persuasively. And as my daughter prepares for her first year at Carleton, I delight in knowing that anything, any career, is possible.
Jenny Moede is EVP, North America at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide