Exploratory Studies Leads to Perfect Match in Public Relations

Shaylin Heller, public relations major at Rowan University, walks past the book store holding her laptop and wearing sunglasses

Shaylin Heller, a rising senior public relations and advertising double major from Frenchtown, NJ (Hunterdon County), has so much passion for what she does, you would never guess she came into her freshman year overwhelmed with the thought of choosing a major. “In high school, what I thought I wanted to study changed every other week!” she says. Through a summer program, she started her freshman experience weeks before the fall semester started. “It was basically a Rowan 101 class, but more intimate because it was over the summer with a smaller group of students, so we were really able to get the know the campus and its programs before anyone else,” she recalls. Shaylin wears a denim jacket and holds her laptop outside of Barnes & Noble.

Initially, Shaylin enrolled as an Exploratory Studies major, unsure of what exactly she wanted to pursue a career in. “The advisors in the program would reach out to me and give advice as I was trying to figure out my major and career goals,” she recalls. Her schedule was created for her through the program’s academic advisors, based on introductory classes that pertained to her general interests. Of the classes chosen for her, including sociology and music, her favorite class by far was Introduction to Public Relations. “I loved that class. My best friend freshman year was a PR major, and I noticed how passionate and driven she was about it. It influenced me to get more involved, because I saw how happy she was in the program,” she says.

One of the assignments in the introductory class was to interview somebody within Public Relations, so Shaylin drove to meet the CEO of the Little Words Project, which she was familiar with through a project with her sorority. She was an ambassador for the company, which allows you to pass on confidence and inspiration by sharing a bracelet with others who may need a reminder of their strength. “Talking to the CEO was inspiring, and it was so interesting to see what her life and career looked like. It made me think, ‘I can really picture myself doing this in the future,’” Shaylin says.

Shaylin walks in front of the entrance to Barnes & Noble. “I always knew I wanted to do something more on the creative side,” Shaylin reflects. “I’m a visual learner and I like talking to people, so I wanted to do something where I’d be in a fast pace environment and constantly meeting new people.” Becoming a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority confirmed her love of public relations, because of their philanthropic work and involvement with nonprofits. “Public relations is at the base of a lot of nonprofits, so getting involved with them really narrowed it down for me, that this is what I want to pursue.”

Flash forward to the end of her junior year, and Shaylin is currently searching for her dream internship, where she can apply everything she has learned the past three years. Her dream is to live in Philadelphia and work in the PR and advertising field. “Sometimes it can be hard to figure out which companies are real and authentic and will help you grow,” she says, “It can get a bit overwhelming, but it’s definitely helped me to come out of my comfort zone and narrow down my ideal job.”

“I loved having the opportunity to explore all the different fields – including ones I hadn’t even heard of before college – and being able to choose what I liked. It was less pressure, because a lot of people have the impression that you have to have a set major before even getting to college, so it reassured me that I didn’t have to know exactly what I was doing right away. Exploratory studies eased the pressure of not having that decision made yet.”

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Story and photography by:
Nicole Cier, rising senior writing arts major

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