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Things Learned Outside the Classroom

Posted At: December 14, 2013 12:33 p.m.
by Casey Rogers

As I finished up with finals last week and graduated Saturday morning, I have been reminiscing about the last four and half years of my life. This very experience will soon be referred to as merely my “college days.” And I, like most soon-to-be graduates, have that anxious yet apprehensive feeling about joining the real world and leaving this seemingly fictitious world behind.

Recently, I have been thinking about everything I have learned in college and how much I have grown as a person during this phase of my life. I realized that much of whom I am now — many tests, term papers, accomplishments and failures later — goes far beyond what I learned from textbooks and in classrooms. I also realized that this personal growth actually relates quit well to public relations, my chosen field of academia.

Don’t get me wrong; I learned a great deal of knowledge and know-how from a handful of very accomplished professors. But, I definitely attribute the bulk of my growth and knowledge to many life experiences I encountered along the way in getting my diploma. Below, you will find a few of the most important things I learned about life and PR while in college.

Story Writing
Much of my motivation to work in PR came from the seemingly generic desire to work with people on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t until after I dove into this field that I realized I had a true passion for telling the story of others. And, through this, I could begin writing my very own story. In PR and in life in general, it’s really important to get to the heart of people in order to effectively tell their story. Whether it’s a client or your best friend, you always want to know both that person and their audience really well.

Always Listening
The old adage that “wisdom has no age” has always been a personal favorite of mine, but its meaning has grown drastically during my college career. Whether wisdom is being shared with you by your 94-year-old grandmother, a colleague at work or your 6-year-old niece, wisdom is timeless — if we only listen. And, it’s even more important to listen to the intricate details. More often than not, I have found value in the details of projects. I have also realized that attention to detail typically doesn’t go unnoticed.

Driving Purpose
One of my greatest role models once told me to, “Always walk with a purpose.” This phrase has been especially important in staying motivated throughout my college experience. Whether it is losing an important football game or not landing a project that you have worked so hard for, upsets happen. It all comes down to how we react — grace in defeat is indicative of true character. Being in PR, I like to think of this as “personal crisis management.” After all, sometimes you learn the most through situations that don’t work out. The key is moving past disappointment and continuing to “walk with a purpose.”

Personal Branding
Good personal branding is something that most PR professionals are incredibly familiar with. In building your very own brand, it is important to stay true to your values. I have learned that if you stay true to your values, regardless of what those values actually are, your brand will speak for itself. It’s also incredibly important to not be scared to take on or to try new things. By being open-minded and remaining true to your personal brand, great things can be achieved.

Investing Connection
The power of someone actually waiting for the answer when they say, “Hi, how are you today?” is truly undervalued. We can get so caught up in our busy lifestyles that we don’t take full advantage of our surroundings. I encourage students to become more than just another name on the roll in their classrooms. Likewise, I encourage employees to be more than just another number on this month’s payroll. Truly take up an interest in others and in your surroundings — you never know who you will meet or encourage along the way.

In closing, I would like to give a big shout out to the many professors, friends and family members that invested in me during the past four and a half years. Your knowledge, wisdom and encouragement have been priceless. To every PR student out there — keep on keeping on, you will graduate before you know it. And lastly, to the crazy career world — please let the odds be in my favor!

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