Eight Things uOttawa PR Students Hear Way Too Often

Written by: Luvy Hardy; Edited by: Sarah Pudwell and Jocelyn Courneya

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When you’re a PR Major, the struggle of explaining what you’re studying in school is all too real.

1) “Oh hey, this is my friend _____ and she’s taking public administration.”
“No I’m not.”
“Oh shoot sorry, she’s in public policy.”
“Nope, still wrong.”
“Public affairs?”
“Ughhhh.”

Fellow PR Students, we all know this scenario way too well. Friends and family will try to explain what program you’re studying in school, and for some reason, it is nearly impossible for people to say the word relations after public. They just can’t physically do it. In all seriousness, it does make sense that this does happen. How many different bachelor degrees start with the word public? Exactly, a lot. And considering how new and emerging public relations is, this mistake should maybe be forgiven.

2) “Oh, I get it, so you’re going to be a publicist?”

This question is like assuming someone who is studying medicine is going to be a pathologist. Just like how medicine leads to many different jobs, so does public relations. It’s a growing field with a lot of different professions, and yes being a publicist is one.

3) “Weird, I haven’t met anyone else in your program before.”

Yeah I would assume so, considering the University of Ottawa only takes 25 people for the English stream and 25 people for the French stream every year. We’re a pretty small team of people, but don’t let size fool you!

4) “Isn’t that the program that you also have to go to Algonquin for?”
“ Yeah it’s conjoint.”
“ Yeah, that’s why I didn’t apply for it.”

For those who are not aware, PR at uOttawa is a conjoint program with Algonquin College. One will do two years of classes there, after two years at the University of Ottawa or vice versa. Yes, Algonquin is located in “Farhaven”. For some that’s basically on the other side of the country. Realistically though, one is looking at around a 30 minute commute to school which in retrospect isn’t THAT bad.

5) “You look a bit young to be in this class.”

Yup, I’m kind of out of my league here. Since, Public Relations is two years at the University of Ottawa and then two at Algonquin College, you’re essentially fast tracking through four years of university in two. My first ever university class was a second year research methods class. Did I have even the slightest clue what I was doing? Nope. First year classes and professors are a bit more welcoming and understanding of this transition time, whereas older classes aren’t as… ‘caring’. A majority of my classes in first year were second year classes and now that I’m in second year, they’re all third year classes. Is it intimidating? Definitely.

6) “So you’re pretty much taking communications then?”

No, like I said I’m taking Public Relations.  Yes, they are similar but they are very different at the same time. To be honest I get confused between the two more often than one would think.

7) Question 6 is always followed by a classic, “Wait what is Public Relations?”
Do you see people asking English majors getting asked what English is? Or Engineers getting asked what engineering is? No, you don’t. In all honestly, I don’t judge people who ask what Public Relations is, it’s such a new and evolving field. But explaining it time after time does get tiring. Public Relations focuses on building the reputation of an organization, through relationships it has with other organizations, and its involvement in the publics.

8) “How do you know everyone in your program”?
Networking, networking, and networking. With public relations, there comes a lot of networking events, which is great because this business is all about who you know.  It also helps that it’s a small program to begin with. PR students get to connect with people from first year to fourth year, which is great.  Recognizing almost all the faces in your program is definitely a nice feeling.

At the end of the day, go ahead and ask your questions, because being a PR student at uOttawa is awesome!

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