Sunday, February 17, 2013

Your Career and You: “The Positiveness of Optimism”


I have good weeks in my multiple roles of public relations
professional, public relations professor, and public relations

mentor. And I have not-so-good weeks.

This one…so far…has been nothing short of amazing.

Here in balmy New England, we’re finally emerging from the aftermath of a blizzard that gave me two unplanned days off… “found time” in which I managed to write and submit a book review, schedule two speaking engagements, and get a boatload of badly-needed sleep.

So, after not having my “normal” set of four classes on Monday, I meandered down on Tuesday to Curry College, where I ride herd over the Communication Department’s Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, for my one evening class…“Crisis Communication Management.”

Didn’t really have a lot scheduled…planned to catch up on paperwork and grab some time with a couple of colleagues who I don’t often have a chance to see.

I opened my office door, unloaded my stuff, sat down, and it started…a steady procession of students, all eager to talk about their forays into the world of public relations.

  • One has scored an informational interview with a very cool entertainment/music promotion company. She loves music. Her Dad is a musician. It’s in her DNA.
  • Another is weighing the benefits of a couple of internships that will allow him to make use of his passion for social media communication.
  • The third wanted to update me on her current internship and all she has learned. I was blown away by her obvious excitement…and by what she has done.

I found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store as I talked with each. I was having serious flashbacks to my own experiences as a Public Affairs Intern for the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command down in Virginia…the excitement of the unknown.

What I realized as I talked with these future PR professionals was that a willingness to dive into the deep end of the pool…not really knowing what’s going to happen but open to the idea that it might be fun…is so very important.

  • How many different materials did Thomas Edison try before hitting on the one that produced the electric light bulb?
  • Where did Christopher Columbus wind up when he set out looking for a “shortcut” to India?

The thing I’ve come to recognize after a “few” years in the working world is that nothing new happens unless you’re open to the idea of trying unknown or different things for the sake of just trying them.

As I say time and again, sometimes things blow up or don’t work. So be it. Worst case scenario…you don’t do that again.

As a kid, I stuck a metal nail file in a wall socket to see what would happen. Found out fast. Blew out the house’s electrical system and apparently turned a marvelous shade of blue myself. Lesson learned!

But, as I have come to recognize, you learn from these experiences. And, if you’re truly adventurous…or curious…you’ll try things again, just in a different way.

And you learn more…you gain more experience and knowledge.

But it all comes from your belief that it can be done…you just have to figure out how.

Internships are a way to experiment with your professional future. At this point as a student, you don’t really know what it is that’s going to make you jump out of bed in the morning eager to get to work and make a difference in some way.

So you try new things…internships, for example…to see how they “feel.” You gain new experience. And you learn a LOT about yourself in the process that you can now apply to your slowly-developing “life plan.”

And it’s all thanks to the “positiveness of optimism.”

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." - James Branch Cabell, "The Silver Stallion" [1926], ch. 26

4 comments:

  1. Kirk, never knew you were an intern at TRADOC. I was an intern for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Louisville, Ky., and got my final placement at Fort Eustis, Va. Great blog post. Always stay curious.

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    Replies
    1. Three degrees of separation, Monica! I interned at Ft. Monroe (TRADOC PAO and Post PAO) and then got my placement at the Intelligence School, Ft. Devens, which brought us to Mass. and we never left (other than three years in Hawaii). Wicked small world!

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  3. At this point as a student, you don’t really know what it is that’s going to make you jump out of bed in the morning eager to get to work and make a difference in some way.

    Public Relations

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