The Ultimate Balancing Act: Balancing Education and Working as a Young PR Pro

Colleen O'Morrow
Colleen O’Morrow

A little over a year ago I was so excited to start my media relations internship at MediaSource! Having summer break to fill with an internship for an amazing company and career I love sounded amazing…and it was! Little did I know, I would be hired as a marketing assistant to work part-time during my school year. I was ecstatic!  

For anyone who loves PR, we understand the meanings of deadlines, 20+ to-do lists and Type A personalities. So when it comes to balancing a PR internship or work opportunity during an academic school year, it’s truly a balancing act.  

During the school year, I work partly from the office, which is just 5 minutes from The Ohio State University campus, as well as remotely so I can finish my assignments at night or on the weekends. As marketing assistant, I work to make sure MediaSource maintains it’s position as a national brand journalism leader. My work includes managing all of our owned media sites including our website, blog and social media sites, which includes tactics to enhance our SEO, social presence and national reputation. I coordinate to make sure our President, Lisa Arledge Powell, and MediaSource are maintaining and gaining speaking events, publication opportunities, awards and other marketing opportunities. In addition, I coordinate new projects and initiatives to advance our marketing and sales, that include fun quizzes, listicles, buyer personas, potential client research and new campaigns for a variety of goals. Aside from marketing, I work in our human resources department throughout MediaSource hiring and I manage our entire internship hiring process. This list covers the main tasks I complete but is certainly not inclusive of all! 

My job rocks! 

But, of course, when I first started, I was stressed balancing school and a professional job at the same time! But I’ve found ways to deal with the PR lifestyle mixed with a student’s schedule and come up on top with an advantage. 

For anyone who has balanced college and a career, you understand that you learn different things at both experiences….you can use this to your advantage! The two ways to make your balancing act a perk: 

  1. During lecture, reading or any assignment for class, apply the content that you are learning to your job. What class theory or strategy can you bring to your next meeting at work? How can these strategies improve your business tactics?
  2. During any assignments or class discussion, find ways to use your work experience as an advantage to your grade and class standing. We get a lot of insight from an internship or job, share appropriate information with the class and impress your professor!  

When you use class as a supplemental piece to your job or vice versa, it makes balancing the two easier because the divide you created diminishes.  

A key to balancing school and work is recognizing the symbiotic relationship above. But these tactics below will smooth and better your everyday schedule. 

Time Management & Prioritization 

Time management is a tactic that every PR pro needs to have for success. So, as a PR student who’s balancing class and work, we get the full, hands-on opportunity to perfect our time-management skills. Get a calendar. Schedule your week. 

If you sit down and allot a certain amount of time to certain projects before you begin, you can effectively calm yourself down, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed by a workload. The best way to manage this is to be proactive and always prioritize!!  

At MediaSource, my team has assured me that school comes first, as I’m sure is a view that many other organizations value. If this applies to you, remember this first. But at the same time, I understand my personal goals for work so I like to evaluate all school and work tasks into one category. For me, I use a massive to-do list.  Create a to-do list of all tasks and evaluate the tasks by asking these questions:

  • What tasks have a deadline or due date?
  • What tasks hold the most value to the class, organization or job that’s requesting the task?
  • What are smaller tasks that can be moved to another day?

After assessing these questions, you can choose your main projects for the day and you can be at ease for the remaining tasks.  

Prompt Communication 

Stress and miscommunication that can arise from balancing a high workload can be reduced when you address any problems or confusion as soon as possible. Need help prioritizing? Ask the manager you directly work with. Having issues finding time to finish a class project? Explain the situation to your professor proactively before the due date. 

Also, communicating with your managers about what projects you have completed, started or not started can be great clarity to reduce your stress. At MediaSource, I meet with my direct manager, the company President Lisa Arledge Powell every Monday to go over the status of all projects that I’m working on. Communicating with your managers about the status of your projects is a great way to reduce stress and increase productivity because they can guide you on what is most important.  

Colleen O’Morrow is Marketing Assistant for brand journalism leader, MediaSource. She is also a full-time strategic communications student at The Ohio State University set to graduate in May 2015.


2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Balancing Act: Balancing Education and Working as a Young PR Pro

  1. Great read, Colleen! This is a very interesting and helpful article. You did a great job highlighting the importance of time management, prioritization and prompt communication for a young PR pro. As a public relations major at The University of Alabama, I am constantly trying to balance my education with my job and extracurricular activities. Like myself, there are many students who struggle preforming the “balancing act” on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to become overwhelmed while trying to juggle everything at once. I feel that it’s important for us, as students, who are very involved or hold much responsibility to find that perfect balance between our education and career. Thanks for the helpful tips!

    Michelle Pierce
    Writer/Editor, Platform Online Magazine

  2. All of this is so true! I interned this spring part-time and went to school full-time. Between graduating, working, freelancing, and planning my own wedding, I was super busy.

    It really helped me to write down 3 things at the beginning of the day that absolutely had to get done. Sometimes, I realized all these little things I was stressing about weren’t a top priority.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Colleen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *