Given our current global climate, knowing the right thing to say and when can be challenging. That’s why public relations is so important, especially in times of crisis. Have you been considering a challenging career in this sector but are not sure where to start? The Certificate in Public Relations from The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University has everything you need to excel in this industry.
Learn directly from practising senior PR practitioners and gain access to networks, practical knowledge, and skills you can directly apply to your career. Bonus – this program can be completed entirely online and at your own pace. We had the chance to speak with a current student and an instructor in the program to gain their insight and experience. Keep reading to hear what they have to say and discover if The Chang School is the right fit for you.
From Medical Research Assistant to PR Student
As a public relations practitioner, you work with a variety of leaders and professionals to help shape an organization’s reputation, manage issues and crises, craft internal and external communications, manage budgets, and so much more. Shaping an organization’s reputation and shifting people’s behaviour was something that drew Megan Ruhig to take the first introductory course. Prior to starting the Certificate in Public Relations, Megan was working towards a career in psychology. She had been working as a Research Assistant at a couple of hospitals when she had to take a year off due to health reasons. It was after this break that she realized she really wanted to pursue something different.
“[Public relations] took all of the things I loved about psychology and put it into a real-world practical experience. There are so many opportunities in PR. You have to be able to understand people in order to do PR well – to be able to look at something from a different perspective and think about how to shift the way people think about it,” says Megan.
When deciding to enrol at The Chang School, Megan knew right away that it was the right fit for her. “When I was looking to go back to school, The Chang School was an easy choice because I knew the quality of the programs and I knew what I was walking into, which was nice. Then to find out the PR program is one of the most respected – that was the cherry on top!” she says. The certificate is recognized by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and truly provides a curriculum that hones practical, analytical, and theoretical skills to prepare students for their future careers.
One of the most valuable skills Megan has taken away from this certificate is asking ‘why’. “Knowing the why can help shape everything. So I think that was one of the most valuable things I’ve learned,” Megan comments. Being flexible is another skill Megan found valuable to her success. While Megan took many courses in-class for her certification, given the current virtual reality we’re all living in, a huge advantage to this program is that it can be taken entirely online. “The flexibility online courses give you is amazing. With the online courses, you’re able to schedule it around your life.” Since this program is suited for people already in the workforce or looking to change careers, it’s beneficial to have the flexibility of online learning.
“Pick a day you’re going to do your schoolwork or reading. Find a time and create a schedule for yourself. I think the biggest challenge is students forgetting that the courses are there and not having to go to a physical class. It’s kind of out of sight, out of mind. So being able to discipline yourself is important,” Megan suggests.
Now more than ever, I think we’re learning that communication is vital. With everything going on with the [COVID-19] pandemic, everyone is having to communicate more than they normally would and communicate in a way that’s measured, reassuring, and authentic.
– Megan Ruhig, Student, Certificate in Public Relations, The Chang School of Continuing Education
Learning from Industry Practitioners and Gaining Top Skills
Maryjane Martin is an award-winning corporate communicator and an instructor at The Chang School who offers communication planning, campaign delivery, and change management development expertise. Maryjane teaches the Planning, Programming and Budgeting (CDPR 104) course in the Certificate in Public Relations program. During her time teaching in this program, she has only had positive feedback from students. “Many students tell me that a lot of things we do in class, they’ve been able to…apply the learnings immediately. It’s not like other courses,” Maryjane says.
Like many of the instructors in the program, Maryjane works within the industry and is able to bring applicable tools and learning directly to the classroom, allowing students to learn the most up-to-date industry standards and immediately apply them.
“Something that is unique to the program that our instructors bring to the table is that they’re involved heavily in their professional associations. I can bring [this knowledge and information] back to my students and ensure that they know the best industry practices right now,” she comments.
Some of the most valuable skills that students can learn in Maryjane’s course, and in the certificate in general, is to think strategically, understand ethics and issues management, and to work creatively as well as analytically. Maryjane also highlights the importance of having a balance between group work and independent study. “It’s real life. Sometimes you have to go to meetings, speak up, and have an opinion, and then after the meeting, you have to go back and work individually on the report or plan,” she says. The certificate has a great balance between independent and group study, along with theoretical and practical knowledge.
There’s no shortage of interesting conversations or learning from peers as well. With a diverse group of students, many are in different industries and varying levels in their careers, and they offer diverse perspectives and experiences. “We have some really lively and fun classes, and it has to do with the group.”
Final Pieces of Advice to Succeed in This Certificate
Both Megan and Maryjane stress the importance of networking with your instructors, speakers, and your peers!
“Take advantage of the network. The network that’s provided through your instructors, but also your own group networks. If speakers come and tell you to ‘feel free to contact them’, then do that. Keep up with networking and what’s going on in the profession. Many of our speakers belong to associations – get involved in these associations and that’s where you’ll be noticed,” advises Maryjane.
If you’re considering enrolling in the program, both Megan and Maryjane say “go for it”.
“If you’re interested in PR and you want to see how it works, The Chang School program is one where you can get your feet wet without it being scary. You actually get a sense of what you want to do, what’s out there, and the options available to you in a way that I don’t know you would get in a different program. It’s very career-focused and practical, and it gives you access to people who are doing the job right now. So having that will give you a more informed decision about your future. If you’re interested, take the intro course – that way you get a taste and you can see if this is where you want to go,” says Megan.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, Spring/Summer 2020 enrollment is happening now! Learn more about the Certificate in Public Relations program at The Chang School here.