From Political Science to Public Relations
It’s been officially four years since I graduated from college with a practical degree in Political Science. And when I tell others I’ve had six jobs since graduation I often get bombarded with the same questions. 1) Whoa, what’s wrong with you? 2) Do you hate working? 3) Is it because PoliSci prepared you for nothing in life? 4) Are you just killing time until you apply to grad school? All fair questions but all also unnecessary.
The thing is, I’ve had so many jobs because when I got to college I took the terrible advice to “do what you love.” I focused less on wanting to be any specific thing and immersed myself in a degree that provided me with the things I enjoyed doing most: reading, writing and thinking. So upon graduation I found myself with the question of what could I, as an individual, contribute the most worth to.
During these four years and six jobs, I worked in the nonprofit world, I did some accounting and I worked in marketing. All of these have molded me into the professional that I am becoming today. My last role was in marketing for a bottled water company and I’ve since transitioned to enterprise tech public relations. In this move I made two distinct changes: I went from working in-house to working in an agency setting and I had to essentially restart my career from the bottom. While you can argue many skills are transferable, learning the inner workings of a new workplace and industry will most likely require you to take an entry-level position and that’s OK.
So why PR, you ask? The truth is I didn’t know I wanted to pursue PR until I chatted with the friend of a friend and he explained his job to me. A brief 30-minute conversation turned into a full-fledged 24 hours of googling the ins and outs of what a career in PR could look like. What specifically drew me to enterprise tech were the different disciplines needed to be successful. I’ve always been a nerd with an insatiable need to keep learning anything and everything – and thus far Bhava and enterprise tech have given me just that. I have clients working in the big data space, in composable data center infrastructure and the nascent container space. In my role I do a lot of reporting, day-to-day news monitoring and am involved in content creation.
As I grow in my role and in my teams I’m more able to marry the skills that I do well with those that I enjoy doing. So to finally answer the question, why PR? In PR I can combine my fuzzy needs for reading, writing and strategic thinking with my interest in tech and continuous need to keep learning new things. And then there’s the allure that comes with helping to shape how our clients tell their stories to the world in the most compelling ways possible. So sometimes when my ego needs a little stroking, I remind myself that it takes courage and confidence to start a new career.
Of course, it’s not easy to leave behind the comfort of a career you’ve nurtured. You learned the industry, you know your job well enough that you can hold your own and if you choose and you can continue to advance in said field. So why make a change? For many people, career changes are about finding a piece of you reflected in your work that your current position isn’t giving you. It’s often less about advancing and more about finding what truly makes you happy. Starting over is more about trying to find the things that you enjoy doing and having them overlap with skills that you excel at. That’s it.
Career changes can be scary and there are a few things to consider to help decide whether an industry change is right for you:
• If I were doing my same job at another company (better pay, different coworkers, etc.), would I be happier?
• Have I talked to enough people who work in this new field? People at all positions?
• Am I prepared to potentially take direction from people younger than I?
• Is this new company willing to work with me as I learn?
• Can my family/finances manage a pay cut?
• Can my ego handle it?
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it can help start the inner dialogue of whether you are making the dumbest decision ever or stepping into a fulfilling work life. Ultimately only you can decide to make that decision but don’t hesitate to talk it through with friends, mentors and family.
While starting over may not be easy, in my experience it’s made the difference between doing a job and beginning the rest of my career.