So you’ve settled into public relations as your major – Congratulations! You’ve chosen well.
But on the first day of classes in your new major, you realize that many of your new classmates not only have their PR major, but also have minors – and some of them have more than one.
You may panic for a second: “Minor?! I just chose my major, and now I have to choose something else?”
Well, never fear! Here are five tips to help you chose the perfect minor:
Passion is key
When it comes to choosing any minor, it’s always good to start with something you’re already passionate about. Do you like fashion? Try a fashion media minor. Do you want to work in the corporate world? Maybe a minor in business or marketing would do the trick. Are you interested in sports? A sports administration minor may be the right fit for you.
Luke Armour, an assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) sequence says that choosing a minor for PR should revolve around your future goals.
“Public relations is a multi-faceted field. You can work in sports, entertainment, healthcare, public affairs, internal communications, technology, higher education – the list goes on and on,” Armour says. “Kent State has a lot of programs that can help you gain a better understanding of a specific field of study that can help you – so be sure to look around. The possibilities are vast.”
Along with being something that holds your interest, a great PR minor should help you to stand out among your fellow PR students. The public relations industry is a competitive one, and you should jump at any chance to get a leg up on your opposition.
Michele Ewing, an associate professor in JMC, says that a minor for PR should further enhance a person’s ability as a communicator.
“I especially advocate for students to study a second language,” Ewing says. “Public relations professionals who understand different languages and cultures are more effective communicators – and more marketable for jobs.”
Complement your major
As previously mentioned, minors that complement the PR major should serve as a way to further enhance your education in the PR sequence. For example, a psychology or sociology minor will help public relations students with analyzing audiences and developing a communication strategy. Be sure to think about potential career interests and find a minor that will provide some additional expertise.
Stephanie Smith, an assistant professor in JMC,says that selecting a minor is comparable to picking a running mate for office.
“You should ask yourself, ‘what makes a good balanced “ticket,” and what will supplement the skills and competencies you don’t have and won’t necessarily get from a PR curriculum?” Smith says. “If you’re not sure what field you want to enter, stay flexible and strategic. I’d look at some fields of study that employment and demographic trends tell us are going to be highly impactful in the future.”
You don’t need to choose a minor in your first semester, or even in your first year — but once you do decide on a minor you think you’ll like, try to stick with it. Much like changing your major, repeatedly switching minors can set you back for graduation and leave you with a bunch of class credits that don’t go towards anything.
A good way to avoid this is to take a class or two in your chosen subject prior to declaring a minor. You can also meet with an advisor in that program to discuss what requirements accompany each minor you are considering. This way, you can decide whether the minor is for you before fully committing.
Armour also recommends looking directly at the classes you’ll have to add to get your minor.
“Look at the content,” Armour says. “Is it really in line with your interests? Will it make you more valuable to an employer? Will it give you skills or knowledge you need in the industry? And definitely talk to upperclassmen who have selected that minor – are they happy? Be sure to find out everything you can about your prospective minor before you choose it.”
Don’t overwhelm yourself
If you’ve read all of the previous advice and are still nervous about choosing a minor, don’t worry! You’re not alone — this just means you’re taking your education in PR seriously, which is a good thing.
Take a deep breath, clear your head and let that knot in your stomach ease up. Declaring a minor isn’t a requirement, nor should it cause you to stress out. Just start from the beginning – make a list of the areas you’re already passionate about, and go from there. There are plenty of resources and people in Kent State’s public relations department will be there to help you out along the way.