Taking a CIPR qualification at nesma changed my life – It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it! How can taking a course change someone’s life? Let me explain…
As a seasoned finance professional with 10 years in the Consumer Goods industry, I was succeeding in my career. Good company, great pay, challenging roles; I was fortunate to have this in this day and age. However, we all set a definition of what truly means professional success for us. For some it’s status or level, for others, it’s a pay grade and these are all good and fine. For me, my definition of ‘success’ (and hopefully my general rule in life) was/is to be happy and fulfilled.
At the common life crossroad that is reaching 30, I realised that I was not happy or fulfilled in my profession. I found myself thinking long and hard about the days in school and college where I dreamed of being an esteemed journalist, writing hard-hitting pieces about very intellectual things…or shoes and bags. For months I couldn’t take my mind off it this alternate path. Had I made the right decision at University when I chose to stick with Business Studies because it was “safe”?
This thought process was the reason why I decided to venture into the jungle that is Google; “Journalism courses in Newcastle Upon Tyne”. I happened upon Public Relations while trekking through the search results. My idea of PR at the time wasn’t particularly accurate, it was publicity stunts and Patsy and Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous. After aimlessly wandering through various PR websites for a while and building up a different, slightly more professional and intriguing picture of PR, I found my oasis, the CIPR website.
To really get to grips with what PR was all about and whether it was going to be the alternative career path which would fulfil me, I decided to take the CIPR Foundation Award in Public Relations at nesma. This would be my linchpin to change careers or to accept that what I had was good enough.
nesma was a great choice for me for many reasons. It was local, the class times weren’t too invasive in my day to day work life, the class sizes were small and the tutors were practising PR professionals. At school, you hear the old adage that a great teacher can really make or break your school experience. This doesn’t change with professional education. My tutors, Laurel and Sally really inspired me and were a huge part of the decision that I ultimately made to change careers.
CIPR was also the right move. There are various options out there from other professional bodies, but I found that the CIPR Foundation Award was perfectly pitched for someone who just wants to build an awareness of the key aspects of PR, which is less Patsy and Eddie, and more about creativity, strategy, building relationships, considering every angle and scenario, being at the edge of new innovations in communication and digital and seeing things through the eyes of others. At this point, I realised that it’s everything that I love to do and have done for many years…just not all at the same time, in the same job.
So, how did a simple course change my life? Following a fantastic and enlightening experience at nesma with CIPR, I marched back to my employer and requested a transfer out of the Finance department and into our Communications department. Being the generally supportive company they are, this did happen (after a while) and I moved into a Consumer Analyst role, where I took every ounce of “PR” experience I could from working on huge, global brands you’ll no doubt use in your home every day. However, I wasn’t living PR to its fullest and I realised that unless I could ‘up sticks’ and move city or country (difficult with a family in tow), I had reached my PR limit with my employer. So I left. Left to follow my heart and search for the job which is everything I have now appreciated PR to be.
If I can leave you with any message, deciding on the right career for you and how you want to measure success is your own judgement. But, if you do find that you are unfulfilled or even unhappy, it’s never too late to take a course, investigate and start afresh.