A Personal Reflection on MacEwan University’s Public Relations Diploma Program
By: Brianna MacLean

When I graduated from the University of Alberta with my BA in 2020, I was left with the thought that plagues so many new grads.

Now what?

It didn’t help that my graduation coincided with the emergence of a global pandemic that effectively changed both academic and professional fields on a fundamental level, which only served to increase the terrifying uncertainty that I was experiencing.

COVID-19 made me feel like I was stuck at the beginning of the race while so many of my peers seemed to be crossing the finish line; In response to these emotions, I began to search for my next step. During this caffeine-induced digital quest, I first came across the Public Relations Diploma Program offered through MacEwan University.

Like many people, my perspective of public relations primarily stemmed from fictional portrayals in the media; Images of the infamous “spin-masters,” of big parties and even bigger controversies dominated the narrative in my mind. This perspective was challenged and tossed out during my very first day of the program when PR Extraordinaire/MacEwan professor Colin Babiuk made the reality abundantly clear: If we entered this program to learn the art of “spin,” there was the (digital) door.

From day one, there was a clear and repeated emphasis on PR as a social science based on ethics, research, and communication. Across two semesters, ten classes, and a roster of teachers made up of professionals at the tops of their fields, I had the opportunity to not only see why this program is held in such high regard by the PR community but to learn a wide array of skills to prepare me for my professional future, such as:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Writing & Grammar
  • Social Media savvy-ness
  • Strategy development
  • RACE (Research, Analysis, Communicate, & Evaluate)

And so much more!

Our education was not restricted to lectures and practice hypotheticals in the virtual classrooms; for our final semester, every student participated in an eight-week professional practicum that allowed us to flex our new PR knowledge and gain some hands-on experience. The practicum was an amazing opportunity to explore the diversity of the local PR community, and several of my classmates were even officially hired at their placement companies following the completion of the program myself included! 

At the risk of sounding cheesy, my time in the PR program truly changed my life.

I developed skills that I will utilize in both my professional and my personal life, I met classmates and teachers who continue to inspire me daily, and I got to cross the very same stage that my mother did when she graduated from MacEwan almost 20 years before.

Most importantly, I discovered a genuine passion for this dynamic field that I could never have imagined before that first class.

While there is still a level of uncertainty that I feel regarding the future, it is no longer something that inspires fear. With the knowledge, experiences, and connections that I developed through MacEwan’s PR program, I feel not only ready to enter the ever-evolving field of public relations, but excited to do so!

If you are interested in learning more about the Public Relations Diploma Program, visit MacEwan.ca today!