The college experience is only what you make it.

These are the wise words of a freshman admissions counselor I met in 2019. Such a small saying, with greater meaning than past-me could ever understand.

I entered my freshman year as a psychology major with the hopes of making a career in music therapy. A major I genuinely thought would be my passion. After one semester, I knew it wasn’t right for me. After dragging my GPA through the mud and contemplating dropping out, I found the Media and Communications department. With the aspiration to dip my toes in the water, I enrolled in the Public Relations Practicum for the spring 2020 semester. I was not expecting what came next.

Every Tuesday from 4:00 to 5:30 pm, I sat in a room with established third and fourth-year media and communications students. I felt out of place, with little to no experience in anything being discussed. Yet, they welcomed me with open arms. Through collaboration, we built the first-ever student-run public relations agency at Arcadia University.

The agency’s birth was full of creative ideation sessions. We would sit in Murphy 108 to draft firm names, mission statements, and services until they were perfect. We voted hundreds of times until we came up with the right combination. My passion for public relations was born, and I declared my major and concentration. Finally, we began working on our first client, Donate Life. The process came to an abrupt stop when COVID-19 hit. I felt like my world was crumbling. I had finally found my path and I felt stripped away of that in-person experience.

We continued the practicum online but it did not feel the same. In retrospect, a huge part of our agency’s services was to hold on-campus events for our clients. I did not let this affect me for long. As I sat in my room and logged into Zoom class after Zoom class, I realized the practicum was the favorite part of my week.

Throughout my college experience, I enrolled for the Public Relations Practicum seven times. I helped create the application for our national affiliation through PRSSA. I worked on over nine client campaigns in three years. I gained valuable hands-on experience that internships would have never competed with in that timeline. This experience allowed me opportunities for an internship outside of my studies during my third year at Arcadia. My resume consists of over three years of entry-level experience in the communications field, which is unheard of prior to an undergraduate graduation. I was given the opportunity for my second internship, which turned into a two-term offer, and has led to a job offer.

I recently envisioned a fantasy conversation between past-me and present-me. In this interaction, I assured her that focusing on gaining valuable experience in the Public Relations Practicum was worth it. We received a job offer before we even graduated, and we would not have been able to do it without her dedication from the start. We could not have done it without 1853 Communications.

The college experience is only what you make it.

If you are a Media and Communications major, take advantage of this practicum. It was built with love and will help you reach goals you thought were unimaginable. It will give you a space to call home. I know it did for me.