We received a question last week that really hit close to home for me. Check it out:
I am a college student majoring in advertising, marketing and public relations. Though I am doing well in my program, I notice that I am less gregarious than the rest of my classmates. Can an introvert succeed in the public relations field when there is such emphasis on social interaction and networking? I am super organized, creative with pitches and ideas, and have excellent communication skills. However, I still wonder if I am at a disadvantage.
Of the two of us, I am much more of a natural introvert than Adrianna. In high school, I was a wallflower and preferred to be independent. I danced ballet, perhaps the most individualistic and fiercely independent of activities, only had a few close friends I kept since I was young, and rarely ventured outside my comfort zone (unless it was experimenting with my first few pair of heels).
While I came to New York to get out of my small town and "experience life," my first couple years of college I didn't change too much. I found a group of friends to call my "urban family," who were all EXTREMELY outgoing, and would take me on their social adventures. It wasn't until I studied abroad in London by myself, took my first communications classes and made myself find new friends on my own that I came out of my shell and started to fake my way to being outgoing.
Being an extrovert has never come naturally to me, but that was one of the reasons I was attracted to PR. The really exciting stuff happens outside your comfort zone. When I started as an intern, I focused on being poised, organized, on time and dependable. As you become successful at the desk-job stuff, you'll soon learn that this business sucks you in and people will want to bring your hard work to the conference room or media meeting. Soon, you find a couple people and managers you look up to, and they begin to include you in on brainstorms and management meetings. Then you attend your first client meeting, media breakfast or new business pitch. With each experience, you will come out of your shell more and more, and shine all the brighter because of it. I really think that introverts make the best extroverts, because we appreciate and acknowledge the nerves and butterflies. And they only make us stronger and more passionate communicators.