There are so many different ways to think about college. Meaning college for one person could be them preparing for the professional world ahead, to another it’s just a continuation of school their parents forced them into and to others they just want to party and know college is one of the best places to do it. To me personally, college wasn’t an option, I knew I had to go and I wanted to go but I never really saw it as a place where the class work actually mattered.
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Your first two years at school you take all the basic core classes, the ones the university makes you take in order to ensure you become a “well rounded student” but what about the rest of them? Your upper level classes are all classes you chose to take depending on the career path that you have chosen for yourself, mine for instance is Public Relations.
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Everyone at some point in their college life has asked themselves in their head, “Why are we learning this?”, “This is just busy work” or “This assignment is annoying”, and to be honest I have thought all these things at one point. What no one actually thinks about is how these assignments will prepare you for your career ahead, especially in PR classes when you are assigned various writing assignments.
The classes you take in college that allow or force you to work with a real world client are the best classes. Instead of seeing it as something that will be hard or “more work”, think of how it’s going to benefit you and the client in the long run. This is real life experience that you are gaining from just another college class. I have had two PR classes where we have had to reach out and work with local clients to base our work off of and I thought it was fantastic. It helped you see that what you are doing in class really does apply to the professional world.
When I got my first internship, there was a day when my supervisor asked me to write a pitch letter to send to a media outlet. Boy did I wish I had listened and took that class lecture more seriously. At that point I logged onto Blackboard and pulled up my teachers PowerPoint to help me do my assignment, at my internship! That’s when I really realized I needed to pay more close attention to detail during my class lectures.
These professors aren’t just teaching us things for the sake of teaching us something on a particular subject. All of this stuff actually has professional application, At least all of my upper public relations classes do.
Public relations is a field where you need to be an excellent communicator, meaning you should know how to write things in the correct format and with the right appeal for whoever you are writing to. Employers expect you to already know how to write these things and do you know where you learn how to write them? CLASS.
This applies to many majors besides my own, there are so many students that make it through college by just cramming before a test or writing a paper at the last minute but what are you learning? College classes aren’t just a bunch of teachers assigning “busy work” they are standing up there literally teaching you what it takes to be successful in your field. The assignments are more like practice for the professional world ahead which is what a lot of people don’t see.
One more example just to tie it all together, in a recent interview at a PR firm the interviewer was telling me all of the things that interns usually work on day to day. Press releases, pitch letters, feature stories, media lists, fact sheets and newsletters for all of their clients. While listening to her list off everything, all I could think about was about how I had lectures and assignments on all of these things in class within the past year.
Every lecture I sit through now you bet I am taking notes and internalizing things more than I ever had before. This is all stuff I’m going to be doing for the rest of my professional life so why would I miss the opportunity to become as strong in these skills as I can be? Think of these classes as your practice run, get as good as you can and write to the best of your ability so you can use your assignments as writing samples for a future employer!