After several years working in different communications and marketing capacities, I found my way into public relations. I was an organizational communications major in college and didn’t have any formal public relations education, but was confident I could apply my experiences to a new field.
A principal at a local firm gave me a chance by hiring me to be a part of her small but high-functioning team. Under her tutelage, I became well versed in public relations, and decided that the field was indeed the direction in which I wanted to grow my career. After a few years at the firm and now at a nonprofit organization, my thoughts turned toward pursuing my master’s. At this point in my career, I realized that earning my APR would be the better option.
I finally took the first step and approached my Chapter’s APR chair for more information. Before I knew it, I was signed up and on my way! My mentor provided support along the way, especially leading up to my Readiness Review. I write well and coach others on what to say, but speaking in front of a group — no matter the size — put the butterflies in my stomach to flight!
Upon being Advanced through the Readiness Review, the hard work began. I joined six of my colleagues from varying organizations and our APR chair, and together we set out on a seven-week master’s level crash course in public relations. The work was challenging, enlightening, thought- and discussion-provoking … and even fun!
Working toward my APR was rewarding, and our team developed a strong sense of camaraderie — we were one another’s support and sounding boards throughout the process, and remain so today.
Looking back, I’m glad I took the first step to getting my APR. And I love those three letters that now follow my name!
Susan B. Barnes, APR, is the director of communications with Girl Scouts of West Central Florida in Tampa, Fla. She is also a freelance travel and lifestyle writer.