Like most of us, my holiday traditions were modified this year in order to help protect the health and safety of friends and family. Instead of gathering around a packed table with loved ones, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in front of a laptop screen celebrating the holidays virtually. After troubleshooting tech issues, applauding uncles’ creative Zoom backgrounds and capturing “family photo” screenshots, we went around our virtual room and updated each other on what’s going on in life.
Two of my cousins proudly announced their acceptance into several colleges around the country, including Grand Valley State University (Go Lakers!). Like many folks their age, they don’t quite know what they want to major in when they do make their final school selection. After mentioning a few interests, one of my cousins asked about my career and the communications field. Sadly, after talking a bit about my role and what my workday usually consists of, my cousins decided to go in a different direction.
But this conversation got me thinking: How can you tell if the communications field is right for you? Whether you’re a high schooler thinking about choosing a major, a college student exploring possibilities or a person considering changing careers, I hope the following points help you make a decision.
You don’t mind an ever-changing schedule
This is one aspect of communications that may not be obvious to those who work in a different field. In communications, there is rarely such a thing as a set-in-stone workday schedule. It’s more common than not for your schedule to go in a completely different direction than what’s on your calendar, forcing you to constantly change gears and shift your daily to-dos and priorities. Serving in a communications role that requires many different hats means you’re pulled in dozens of directions at once. As someone who has worked in-house and at an agency, I can tell you this holds true for both settings.
To some, not having workdays planned out minute by minute on an Outlook calendar can be a major cause of panic. To others, having a schedule that can turn on a dime keeps workdays fresh and exciting.
You enjoy writing
From event planning and analytics to social media management and strategy, all communications roles and tactics have one thing in common: strong writing. For this reason, a love for words is a must-have.
By the time I reached high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career that is driven by writing – I couldn’t picture myself getting satisfaction and joy out of plugging in numbers eight hours a day.
Think about classes that gave you the most excitement growing up. Did book reports and creative writing classes give you energy, or did you get more of a thrill from solving math and chemical equations?
You thrive under pressure
Working well under pressure is a must-have skill for communications pros. As I previously mentioned, working in the communications field means your day can turn upside down and, most of the time, it’s for a crisis or new project with a quick turnaround time.
There have been countless times where I’ve had to drop everything to swiftly write web copy, shoot and edit a video or design a social media graphic for a client or coworker. These quick turnaround projects put your skills to the test, sharpen your creative prowess and make your workdays go by faster.
Think about the times you’ve had to perform under pressure at work or school. Do these memories fill you with stress or personal satisfaction?
You have an eye for design
Similar to writing, design is a must-have passion for communications pros. Design is just as important as writing when it comes to effectively communicating key messages to audiences.
You may have an eye for design and not know it. Can you recall the feeling or impact a recent waiting room brochure, website or billboard made on you with its layout, colors and font choices?
Here’s an exercise for you: Next time you check the mail, pick out a mailer, critique the design and put yourself in the shoes of the person who made it. After, reflect on the experience and ask yourself if you’d enjoy performing that same exercise every day.
You stay up to date on the latest
A large part of communications is staying up to date on current events and trends through news outlets and social media platforms. Communications pros are always monitoring the latest viral social media trends, politics and stories to help create relevant content that will resonate with audiences.
If logging onto Facebook seems like more of a chore than an informative activity, you may want to consider a different field. If you can name the latest social media challenges and trends happening in the world off the top of your head, communications might be the perfect role for you.
I hope this blog helps as you explore and consider the communications field. These are just a few points that will help determine if it’s the right pick for you, but I believe they are a good starting-off point. Still not sure if the communications field is right for you? Feel free to connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about what it’s like to work in this wonderful, fulfilling field.