Telling My Story: Lessons Learned by a Psych Major in the PR World

Through my internship with Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, I recently had the opportunity to attend Real World PR, an annual conference held by the Public Relations Society of America (Georgia chapter) for students interested in public relations.

As I waited for the conference to begin, I chatted with a group of students who had traveled more than 12 hours to attend. Fortunately, being in Atlanta afforded me this, and many similar opportunities, without an exhausting commute. When the other students attending began listing their majors, all fell under the communications umbrella. I was the lone psychology major.  I questioned, how does that fit into the PR world? But, as the conference progressed, I began to learn that my major was just one of many angles to my own story I could share to promote my skills and attributes.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Jodie Charlop, an executive coach. She described her seemingly disjointed career path, but went on to explain the common themes in her repertoire of experiences. She encouraged us to work on weaving together our many experiences to create a story—our own story.

Similar to Charlop, my own resume reflects my exploration into what I should do in life and for a living. I have been a circulation assistant in a library, worked as a resident assistant, interned at a consulting company, and currently work with international students at EF (Education First) and in Oglethorpe’s Career Services office in addition to interning at Pegasus. Needless to say, with the exception of my current internship as the Public Relations Specialist at Pegasus Creative, the rest of my resume does not exactly fit the PR mold.

I began to understand how relevant Charlop’s talk was to me and my challenge. Throughout the rest of the day, as I began to attend more sessions, I began to think how I could use my major and variety of experiences as ways to stand out and be memorable.

During a session about PR niches and myths, PR professionals from companies like Moe’s and Children’s Health Care of Atlanta spoke about their stories and experience in PR. When asked about their backgrounds, all stated that they were undergrads in communications, with the exception of one, another psychology major. It was then I realized I was not an odd man out after all. The point of the breakfast presentation began to sink in. PR is about how a company is presented, and as aspiring PR professionals, we can utilize the same strategies when presenting ourselves. We only need to tell our story in a compelling way.

Oglethorpe Psych Students Excel at Research Conference

The annual Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology Conference was recently hosted by nearby Kennesaw State University. More than 110 students from nearly 20 universities presented either research posters or talks. Many were honor students from their respective universities—which this year included universities from surrounding states as well.

The Oglethorpe Psychology Department was represented by seven students who had their work accepted for the conference: Jahnavi Delmonico, Julia Fukuda, Cassie Hendrix, Allison Moore, Justin Sabree, Brittany Weiner and Janet Wood. They presented a mixture of research posters and talks based on the original data they had collected in their respective studies from the past year. In addition, all of them participated in a juried competition sponsored by the Georgia Psychological Association (GPA) for best research at the conference. Judges consisted of executive members of the GPA and professors of research methodology.

For the fourth year in a row, an Oglethorpe student earned first place! Specifically, Cassie Hendrix submitted a study she completed during her “Theories of Personality” course on the effects of anxiety on people’s ability to correctly interpret the emotions expressed in facial expressions. She presented her research in a 250-seat auditorium, where she led the audience through a Powerpoint presentation of her study, followed by a question and answer session. Cassie and I (as her faculty sponsor) received certificates of recognition and Cassie received a cash award. She joins previous GPA-sponsored conference winners Ilana Olin and Mary Beth Bidgood (2009), Alyx Buonanotte (2010), and Balbir Khalsa and Brittany Weiner (2011).

Participants had the opportunity to attend all the talks and poster sessions, as well as listen to a keynote address and attend a career/graduate school panel discussion. It was an excellent opportunity to meet students and professors from other schools and to learn from fellow excellent researchers.

All of the students gained valuable experience, practiced publicly presenting and defending their work, and had a good time spending the day with each other and the department faculty. Congratulations to all of you!

Editor’s Note: The Oglethorpe University Psychology Department routinely encourages its students to submit original research they have designed and conducted to professional research conferences. Our students typically attend several conferences during their undergraduate education. Submitting one’s work for peer review by experts in the field and then defending that work in a professional setting is wonderful training for graduate school, professional schools (e.g., medical and law) and many careers.