Discussing the peaks and pitfalls of Public Relations can often be scary for students hoping to soon enter the professional world, but Allie Erenbaum, Chad Furst, and Killian MacDonald reassured our PRSSA members that even when you’re in your worst pitfall, you can find a peak. As someone who constantly wonders if I will be able to make it in the communications field, I left this meeting feeling reassured in my ability to power through the difficulties and find my happy moments.
Allie Erenbaum and Chad Furst, strategic communications consultants for Booz Allen Hamilton, provided our chapter with some insights into the consulting world. It was a welcome opportunity to learn more about where our communications degrees can take us. Chad talked about how he stumbled upon his current job after moving through a few odd ones that he didn’t expect to have, like spending some time working for the parks service.
Allie told us about her experience being an American University PRSSA alumnus and how valuable our meetings with real-world professionals are. She also mentioned that seeking people out is the best way to get a foot in the door and learn more about what types of jobs are out there. One of her biggest pieces of advice was to just get your name out there and meet people in your field—networking is the key to being successful in the communications world. I personally find it so helpful to hear how people got their start and love the supportive advice that we can hear from our PRSSA guests. I am also someone who is shy about reaching out like that, so I really appreciated her advice.
A highlight of the event came during Killian MacDonald’s presentation about her experience as a project manager for APCO. She explained how to prevent yourself from burning out when you first start your career and want to do everything. She told us that you do not need work-life balance, as many claim, you need work-life integration. It was advice she got from her coworker.
Killian did the math for us and revealed that when you tally up how you spend your week, only 30 percent of it is spent actually living. Everything else is work, eating, sleeping, etc. That’s insane! This, Killian pointed out, is definitely not balanced. Therefore, work-life integration is vital to keeping your sanity while working full time. Find ways that your work can involve things that you love. Come up with a passion project. Spend your commute or travel time writing or reading. Killian spends her time on planes working on her novel. The possibilities are out there, you just have to find them and take care to integrate them into your life. This concept blew my mind but I instantly knew it was something I too, needed to work on.
I left the Peaks and Pitfalls meeting with a renewed sense of hope and excitement about the possible career paths I will have to choose from and the variety of ways I could get there. Chad, Allie, and Killian really inspired me to move forward with passion and be ready for what the PR world will have to offer.