Ever Consider Running Away with the Circus?

As a child, running away with the circus always seemed like an excellent career path. I planned to jump on board a train and discover a magical world of stunts, beauty, and mystery; all bending my perception of the real world and convincing me that wild animals can dance and people can fly.

Like most children though, my plans after high school matured. I decided to move away from home and go to college where my family has always gone to college, Auburn University. When I arrived to “the loveliest village on the plains” I was clueless as to what my major should be.

Fortunately for me, the university offered a program designed to help you discover your major. It’s called the Exploratory Advising Center and me having dozens of interests, from marine biology to architecture, I desperately needed their help.

After a few months of meetings with advisors and sampling all the majors Auburn University had to offer, it became clear to me that I was supposed to major in Public Relations.

Every college student who returns home for Thanksgiving is always asked the same question, “what are you studying?” Which is often followed up with, “and what do you plan to do with that exactly?”

The second question frustrates me and truthfully, the easiest answer is, “anything I want.” I should mention, this response usually does not please the one who asked the question.

I actually had the honor of serving as a “Peer Instructor” for the Exploratory Advising Center my second year at Auburn. I was given the opportunity to help new students discover the right major for them, just as I had done.

In this role, I used my own powers of persuasion to inspire a few students to declare their majors as Public Relations.

I told them a fundamental truth; everyone needs public relations. Every organization, business, person, you name it has to exist and therefor function in our society. A degree in Public Relations is endlessly versatile.

With a degree in public relations, you could run for president. You could manage political campaigns that make presidents. You could be the White House press secretary or chief of staff. You could be the Secretary of State. You could engage in matters of government, influence the federal, state, and local political agendas.

With a degree in public relations, you could dominate the corporate industry, representing multimillion dollar companies, handling investor relations, easing the fears of stakeholders, and managing a company’s image.

With a degree in public relations, you could host elaborate fundraising events, engage with volunteers and communities, and seek to make the world a better place with non-profits. You could shine a light on the less fortunate and unforgotten publics in society and make a difference.

With a degree in public relations, you could but the care back in the healthcare industry. You could work in hospitals or for medical manufacturing, cutting through jargon and making people feel safe in a part of life we often do not feel safe in.

With a degree in public relations, you could represent celebrity athletes and Hollywood starlets. You could handle the affairs and business of the rich and famous. You could hold the spotlight that shines on the next big thing, the new talent, and you could manage their careers.

With a degree in public relations, you could even be a part of the entrepreneur’s American dream. You could help small businesses grow, develop, and change the landscape of the working class.

You could even run away with the circus. Afterall, the father of Public Relations was P.T. Barnum himself.

It has been my experience that majoring in Public Relations is the most bang for your buck. As someone who was an undecided major, I know the decision is scary to make and uncertainty is a real and consistent problem for young students just starting to make their way in life.

For this type of student, the pathway through Public Relations is like a security blanket. Early coursework in classes like Foundations of Public Relations and Communication and Journalism is full of real-world applicable skills. This allows you to get a taste of the industry and still grow and develop your own professionalism.

On that note, there are so many internships that offer the same experience. In Auburn, Alabama alone, internships with agencies, local government and businesses will equip you with real-world experience not just in Public Relations, but so many skills that any employer would be thrilled to see.

The path of Public Relations has always been encouraging for me and I hope it can be for all young students, terrified and uncertain about their future. But, as for me, I have felt only certainty since having declared my major as Public Relations, for which the possibilities are endless.