By Rachel Huie
I’m a planner. Over the past two decades or so, I have gotten pretty good at squeezing my life into a series of to-do lists, calendars, five-year plans and anything else to convince myself that I have some control in this constantly changing world.
So, when I walked into college as an overconfident freshman, I knew exactly how everything was going to go and, more importantly, everyone else knew that I knew. I planned to major in political science, go to law school and then spend the rest of my life promoting justice on Capitol Hill.
The political science part lasted for a week.
That rattled me, but it was nothing compared to the day I woke up and realized that, after almost 10 years of insisting otherwise, I didn’t want to be a lawyer, either. If the change in major was rattling, the thought of a change in career plan was shattering. So I didn’t say anything. I kept going to prelaw events, half-heartedly studied for the LSAT and did everything I could to hide from change.
After a year of that, I realized that hiding wasn’t doing any good, and I finally changed my major to public relations. As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the ways in which organizations build relationships with their publics, whether it be through social media banter, community outreach initiatives or thoughtful news releases. I had never expected that I could make a career out of it, but, after the first day of my Intro to PR class, I finally felt that I had found where I belonged. College was no longer about waiting — to go to law school, to move on to the next stop on my five-year plan, to do something “some day.” Suddenly, college was full of opportunities for real-world experience and platforms from which I could build my career. But I had a lot of catching up to do first.
While I hid from change and clung to law, a career path that grew less and less appealing, I was missing out on opportunities, like internships and organization memberships, that could help me get ahead in my public relations career. Even though those opportunities eventually came, with hard work and a lot of support from my professors, I had learned an important lesson about the consequences that come from sticking to a plan just for the sake of sticking to a plan.
A lot has changed since I made that decision to stop hiding from change. Although I still have an affinity for lists and rarely go anywhere without my day planner, I schedule things in pencil now. My time in public relations has taught me that change is both healthy and inevitable. As communicators, we must be responsive when change pops up — because it will, and it is better for us, and for the people we represent, to respond to it early, instead of having to play catch-up down the road.
College is unique in that, for a set number of years, you are surrounded by opportunities to get outside of your comfort zone and grow as an individual. Join that organization. Try that hobby. Take that elective. And remember that it is OK — even encouraged — for you to change a little in the process.
Rachel Huie is a senior majoring in public relations with a specialization in sport and entertainment communication management. She currently serves as vice president of publications for UA PRSSA. You can find her on LinkedIn.