Students majoring in public relations are not given a step-by-step guide on how to achieve success, mainly because there are multiple ways to do this in the field of public relations. Because of this uncertainty, students are required to do more during college than simply graduate with a public relations degree. We have to get internships. We have to write. We have to boost our people skills. We have to show our experience. Then we have to get more internships.
While a major’s coursework provides a good foundation of information needed to succeed in public relations, a career in the field requires strengths in many different areas depending on what you want to do. Having another major alongside your public relations major is just one of the many ways you can demonstrate that you are dedicated to learning and well-rounded. If you are able to pursue a double major, it is a great way to expand your skillset and maximize your time in college.
That being said, pursuing a second major is not for everyone and is definitely not necessary for a successful public relations career. A double major is simply another way to make the most of your undergraduate career. If you will not have time to both pursue two majors and gain real, applicable experience through internships, spend time on the latter. I decided to add a second major after it was recommended by several of my mentors who realized that I had free space in my future coursework.
If you choose to go this route, it is best to stick by two principles when deciding on your second major. The first principle is to opt for one that will help you in the specific public relations career you want. This could mean majoring in political science if you are interested in political campaigning or business if you want to open your own firm. The second principle is to remain true to yourself and pick a major that will interest you. If you love history, choosing it will mean you get to enjoy your studies while gaining that extra degree.
My advice is to choose a double major that combines both principles—something you are interested in and something valuable to your future plans. The good news is that this is not hard to do, as pretty much any major can boost your public relations skills if you enjoy it. A major in psychology can help you understand people in a more thorough way, while a major in international relations may help you get internships with traveling opportunities.
I went back and forth deciding between possible majors simply because public relations is my passion and everything else I was interested in seemed disposable to me. I considered international relations, marketing and anthropology before deciding on English. If this is your situation, talking to advisors in each major may help you gain a perspective on what is possible.
Ultimately, my decision to add English as a second major came from talking to advisors, looking at my future coursework and focusing on my interests. While an English major will help me with the writing aspects of a public relations, it also interests me enough to stay invested for the rest of my undergraduate career.
Whatever you choose as your double major, remember that it will show a lot about yourself to employers reading your résumé. Make sure it helps you accomplish your goals and speaks for who you are as not only a public relations student, but as a person with multiple interests and a story to tell.
-by Emily Hillhouse, PRSSA General Member
Emily Hillhouse is a public relations and English double major and an Italian minor at The University of Alabama. She is currently a member of UA PRSSA and a writer for The Crimson White. Connect with her on LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org.