At the beginning of your college journey, four years seems like a long time away. That question of what “life is after undergrad” doesn’t need to have an answer. You barely have to have an answer to what your major is for the first year and a half. For my first two years of undergrad, I had no clue where my future was going to take me.
During my sophomore year, the news of being on track to graduate a year early made me realize just how close the “great unknown” was. I had a few options, pick up another major or minor and continue my undergraduate education, get ready to start looking at jobs or look at my options for graduate school.
I knew in that moment I wasn’t going to stretch out my undergraduate studies. I absolutely loved the classes I was taking but knew long-term either having more experience or a higher education degree would be more beneficial. That summer of 2018, I was lucky enough to have a fellowship at an agency in New York City, and I decided to wait to make any decisions until after that experience, but I was already starting to do my research.
It seems that everyone you ask in the “graduate school vs entering the
workforce” debate has a different answer. I asked professors, advisors, my account team for the summer, past mentors from Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), past internship supervisors, and everyone had a different answer. I was absolutely loving the work I was doing at my fellowship, had fallen in love with city life again after moving away from home in Philadelphia, and could easily see myself waking up to do this every day, but I knew I had more to learn.
When making a choice about something as big as the future, I realized it wasn’t about what other people thought was right for me, it was what I thought was right for me. At the end of the day, I was the one doing the work, whether it be class work or client work. There is no one path to success in the industry of marketing communications and I am the only one who can determine what mine will be. My choice for the next step: graduate school.
So here I am, freshly graduated at 21-years-old living in Morgantown with my best friends, surrounded by a college that really cares about me, building my experience as a graduate assistant, and expanding my network as a member of PRSSA’s National Committee. I am taking advantage of all these opportunities I wouldn’t have without continuing my education. I’m still forging my path and learning more about my industry, and myself.
I invite you to follow along as I continue my adventure as an emerging professional with my insider take on real-life as a graduate student, inside and outside of the classroom.
Emily Zekonis ( @EmilyZekonis) is a first-year graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications with an Area of Emphasis in Management. She is from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania and holds a B.S.J. in Strategic Communications with an area of emphasis in Public Relations from West Virginia University. Follow along with her graduate adventures on the Marketing Communications Today Blog.
Interested in learning more about WVU's IMC program?
West Virginia University's IMC professionals are dedicated to preparing people who are passionate about marketing communications to thrive by offering a cutting-edge graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications.