by Kathryn Dafos, graduate of the PR Diploma Program
Public Relations really chose me more than I chose it. Throughout my life I’ve always been an outgoing and gregarious person who enjoys bringing diverse personalities together. From a career perspective I’ve naturally gravitated to roles that allow me to interact with the public and work with people to achieve mutual understanding and consensus.
While considering a course of study that was aligned to my work, my employer suggested Public Relations saying “It’s who you are and what you do every day, Kathryn. You might as well have the credentials to prove it.” Once enrolled, I felt like I had found my educational niche.
After the introductory Public Relations Theory and Practice course, I dove head first into the deep end of the program - Communication Planning and Managing the Public Relations Function. These courses were life changing for me! I use the knowledge gained both professionally and personally. Communication Planning gave me the power to clearly articulate my vision when developing new projects, measuring objectives and creating the road maps to achieve them, while anticipating challenges and leveraging opportunities along the way. Managing the Public Relations Function built on these skills by enabling me to create comprehensive proposals that focus on the required deliverables and consider all of the hard and soft project costs. Practical application of these skills has empowered me to achieve positive results and increase benefits for my employers, as well as for myself when I undertake work as an independent contractor.
All of the courses in the Public Relations Program were incredibly valuable and added to my professional toolkit. In my current role as Economic Development Project Coordinator for the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce I have the privilege of working with VIATEC, South Island Prosperity Project, Tourism Victoria, all of the region’s public K-12 and post-secondary institutions, municipalities and many other organizations. The skills I’ve gained enable me to identify common goals and foster collaborative stakeholder relationships that work toward creating family sustaining jobs and a strong regional economy.
Thank goodness for distance learning! The flexibility of online learning gave me the ability to study at my own pace while maintaining work-life balance. I could pursue my continuing education (often in my PJs) from the comfort of my own home or a hotel room while I traveled on business. Frankly, I don’t know if I would have been able to complete the program had this option not been available. I never felt isolated while learning. The online learning platform feels almost like a social media application where relationships with instructors and peers grow and flourish.
The Public Relations Program at the University of Victoria has been empowering in so many different ways. Studying at a world-class institution has built my self-confidence and professional credibility. It stretched my mind and broadened my horizons. I look forward to seeking my APR designation through the Canadian Public Relations Society and am excited about the new doors it will open. Professionally I’m doing my best to follow the advice of the father of Public Relations, Edward Bernays who said “Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.”