We’ve all heard comedians crack jokes about career quizzes and their lack of real-world application. At my high school in Belton, Mo., this was not the perception. Career Day, and the ensuing career quiz, was a big deal. All the students gathered in the library, claimed a computer by alphabetical order, and embarked upon a journey into their future.
Once completed, everyone received a printout of their most compatible career field. The library was abuzz with students sharing their results. At the time, I knew nothing about communications, so you can imagine my disappointment when that’s what my printout read. I pondered, “What is communications?”
But I didn’t dare question the results of the quiz and began to research this mystery field. In doing so, I discovered that people in communications work in broadcast media, not-for-profits, corporate communications, marketing, advertising, the government/public sector….the list went on. How was I ever to choose a path?
I eventually decided on journalism and joined the communications program at William Jewell College, as well as the campus publication, The Hilltop Monitor. During my time as a staff writer, I realized the difficulty in telling the whole story while reporting. Some say that sunshine is the best disinfectant, but in shining light on a topic, it’s hard to report on all the complicated little details that effectively tell both sides of any issue…especially with a 300 word count.
While this challenged me, I very much enjoyed working with the other reporters, interviewing and getting to know the faculty and staff, and being at the helm of my campus community.
That’s when I discovered my niche within the field of communications. Public relations. When you get down to it, this industry is about telling stories. Sharing the positive stories, managing the not-so-positive stories, halting the untrue stories, but above all, telling the entire story. It’s about being an advocate for a business or organization, whether it’s popular or not, and working with the media to report what my clients have to say.
So what can I, and fellow business communicators, learn in reflecting on our humble beginnings? For me, it’s to continue telling the stories that make a difference for my clients and the community. To give a voice to those that may not be heard, in ways that positively impact their business. That, and never underestimate the power of a career quiz. Being one of the few out there who actually planted the seeds of a career based on their high school quiz, it’s been quite the conversation starter.