The Road Less Traveled… To PR
By Liz Segran
There are many paths that lead to a fulfilling PR career. I’ve just joined SHIFT, and in my few weeks here, I’ve enjoyed hearing about people’s experiences, their backgrounds, their passions. Before becoming SHIFTers, many of my colleagues were English majors who spent their days reading Shakespeare. Others can recount the entire history of the printing press in a few minutes. These diverse experiences add to the color and vibrancy of life in this office.
My own road to PR was circuitous. After college, I discovered a passion for Indian literature. I spent six years after college pursuing a PhD in Classical Indian Literature. For me, there was no better way to spend my early twenties. For the sake of my research, I spent years backpacking through India, learning from holy men and scribes and scholars. I spent months studying murals in Cambodia and Indonesia, trying to understand how Indian culture had spread across the oceans during the middle ages. I lived in small villages and made friends with school children and grandmas. I figured that there would never be another opportunity to be so free of responsibility. I soaked it all in.
After months of going out into Asia, I would hole myself up in libraries in Berkeley, London and Paris, where there were archives of Indian literature. I would spend days alone, writing and thinking. I translated ancient texts and I wrote about the role of women in the world of ancient India. I managed to complete my seemingly interminable dissertation, and then, all of a sudden, I was done! I had to figure out my next step.
The thing is, while I loved my years as a wandering scholar, there was a part of me that felt divorced from the hustle and bustle of the real world. Scholarship is a solitary pursuit. It was good for me to learn to be alone for a time, but ultimately, I am so much happier being around other people. My instinct is to nurture relationships, and it is hard to do this when you are always on the move. And so, I found PR. PR is all about developing strong relationships with clients. Moreover, it is a world that is fueled by writing, something that I have been well trained to do, in the liberal arts.
As someone who is clearly fond of learning, what I love about PR is that there is always so much to discover. SHIFT has many clients in the tech industry that are doing groundbreaking, world changing things with their innovations. It is so exciting to learn about a new company or a new industry every week. PR professionals need to be up to speed about the business world. This is a place for people who are intellectually curious.
I am drawn to PR because it allows me to continue to be an adventurer, exploring new worlds, this time in the corporate sector. My background, as different as it is, has prepared me for the task ahead. It is a story that many other PR professionals can related to. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!