“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
The first question that I am faced with when I tell new people that I am studying public relations is “What job is that degree going to get you?” I used to take offense at this statement, but after hearing it so many times over and over again, it has become second nature to me to rattle off a long list of possible opportunities that my degree allows me to explore, including media relations, strategic corporate communications, investor relations, agency public relations, consumer relations, government relations, public affairs, social media director, head journalist, employee relations, community relations, international public relations, risk management, crisis communications, and even upper C-suite management positions. This list is extensive, and it continues on as I grow and learn of new opportunities, but the point is, every degree and every passion offers a plethora of options and career opportunities to the person who works hard and studies to do these jobs.
Notice my degree of communications does not include the common STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) terms. That is because it does not have to in order for me to have a successful career and a successful life. To be completely honest, I could have easily been a STEM major. I am highly proficient and knowledgeable in technology, and have worked as a student technician at my college for two and a half years. I love technology; from breaking it to fixing it, to seeing how it works and learning more about it, to making it more versatile and more intricate, a STEM future could have easily been my outlet. However, my passion for talking to others, using my words as my voice, and my creativity paired with my love of the business world could not keep me away from the School of Communications and the public relations realm.
The U.S. National Census reports that 74 percent of people with a STEM bachelor’s degree were not employed in STEM occupations in 2012. According to the United States Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-2013 Edition), employment prospects for both professions are extremely positive. In fact, the number of employed public relations specialists is expected to jump from 258,100 in 2010 to 316,200 by 2020. This projection equates to a 23 percent rise in employment. On the other hand, the number of employed public relations managers is predicted to increase from 61,900 in 2010 to 72,100 by 2020 which indicates a similarly impressive 16 percent rise in employment. I do not see my career choice going out of style in the near future, and I definitely do not see my passion dwindling down anytime soon either!
Communications majors are the butts of the career jokes. To most, a degree in liberal arts or humanities is a wasted piece of paper and a surefire job at a fast-food chain. But in reality, this
could not be further from the truth. There are strengths and advantages that a degree in fields such as history, linguistics, and political science hold that STEM degrees do not. Communications majors encourage analysis, critical thinking, and a vast knowledge of various topics. These majors look deeper into varied texts that affect media, culture, society, literature, and politics. It is not the major specification that is applied in the workforce, but the work ethic and skills that are gained in earning the degree. Communications majors work well with close readings and analysis, as well as grammar and writing, which can be applied to media professions, law, business, creative professions, and politics. If our country focuses only on the drive to be a technologically advanced nation, our culture and society will follow in suit. We need the communications majors to run our schools, social services, and political centers. Who will write future great films and literature? Where does art come into play in a STEM-filled world? Engineers do not fit in at the U.N. table.
Having a creative degree means that I have more options to pursue in this world, and more realms that I can delve deeper into. Being able to think artistically and come up with a creative solution to a problem instead of solving a mathematical equation that gives only one correct answer is a skill that I have learned in my degree studies, and have also been able to apply to many parts of my life. Inventive business is a lot more difficult than one might think, and to say that it might be “easier” than the STEM careers is absolutely wrong. STEM majors are very valuable to our society and foundation as a nation, but our current obsession with them will lead to a pool of laborers in a modern workforce that all serve the same function.
The most important thing to remember is that every person is born with their own beautiful and special talents. Each person can change the world using the talents they have and the education they pursue. And, who knows, one day you might listen to that music major’s new hit song while flying to work with your jet pack, courtesy of your local engineer.