Flying from Long Beach to San Jose for a client meeting + photo shoot

It seems like it is the million dollar question (or at least the cost of your tuition) any time you say you are a Communication major. “What do you want to do with that?” While the degree opens up an entire sea of options, finding the career you truly want proves more difficult; however, maybe we are starting on the wrong end. Perhaps while trying to find what we want do with the rest of our lives, we shouldn’t be so quick to discount finding what we don’t.

Like many of my peers in the School of Communication, I selected a minor to help sharpen my focus in academics and beyond. I was fortunate enough to gain acceptance into the public relations minor program in Dodge College my sophomore year. In practicing various forms of public relations writing, business identity strategy, media relations, and special event production, I have employed the persuasive and interpersonal concepts I’ve learned in my major classes. In short, communication studies gave me the knowledge to craft successful messages; public relations provided the atmosphere to do so.

Shooting the Black Label Sexy Fries at Mortar & Pestle Bar in San jose

To both appIy and further my knowledge in a professional environment, I secured a position as an account coordinator at Ajenda Public Relations— a tiny but mighty public relations and marketing agency with restaurant clientele spanning California, New York, Washington, D.C., Canada and more. Essentially, I served as the assistant to one of the account executives while managing our team of interns throughout the fall. My responsibilities entailed running 9-11 accounts simultaneously with daily tasks including social media, content creation, email marketing, special event planning, media relations, proofreading and web editing.

Watching sparks fly atop Indian-inspired craft cocktails at Mortar & Pestle Bar San Jose

I had the opportunity to contribute to several special projects such as flying up to San Jose for the day to shoot a new client’s menu items and recruiting participants for a charity event at the grand opening a client’s restaurant in Tigard, Oregon. Additionally, I was invited to attend the events the agency produced such as local grand openings, brunch menu launches and the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to work hands on in the industry I wish to pursue within a niche market I never considered…so that I could discover exactly what I DON’T want to do.

You hear “workplace culture” thrown around a lot if you take Business & Profession Communication or even Group Communication, but it’s something you often pass over as a student. That being said, it is easily one of the most import aspects to consider while you are chasing that ever-elusive dream job.

Wining + dining at the Newport Beach Food & Wine Festival

Workplace culture is the basis on which every office interaction and product begins and transpires. These cornerstone beliefs, values, assumptions and habits completely transformed the way I felt in the office and my attitude toward the work I was doing.

Me + my plus one enjoying some California Chardonnay

Similar to your first relationship, you don’t truly realize what you want in terms of workplace culture until you experience what you don’t want. From my  corner desk at Ajenda, I discovered that I need a more active work environment where I am not simply sitting in front of a screen, an office where important matters are discussed more frequently face-to-face, where you know the clients or entities you represent by name, and one where I gain a sense of personal accomplishment from handling a project all the way through. After all, the work you are doing is just as important as the environment in which you are doing it. Considering the company had offered me a job post-graduation, it was difficult to come to terms with walking away from that security; however, our communication classes also discuss the importance of workplace happiness. Whether it was an assigned textbook reading that made me do it or just a gut feeling, I am happy that I did.

Perhaps I hadn’t found the career I wanted, but I did find the one I didn’t. As my professor Veston Rowe always stresses, there are no mistakes unless you do not learn from them. And as he has told time and time again, “You cannot be afraid to fail.”