This time of year – especially during Thanksgiving week – it’s natural to take a step back and reflect on what we are grateful for.

My path that led me to pursue communications as a career was a bit of an unusual one, primarily because it happened so early in my life. Before I was 10 years old, I was creating parodies of songs and television commercials regularly (I suppose I should have been playing outside a bit more, now that I think about it).

The adults in my life told me that there had to be some market for my talents, and suggested that I apply for a job in advertising. Though clearly they were joking, that idea stuck with me. I was a public communications major in college and never once considered another profession.

I love what I do. I’m grateful for it.

There are a myriad of reasons I’m thankful I pursued communications. It’s a bit challenging to synthesize them into my top three, but I’ll give it a shot.

  1. It made me a more effective planner. I like to remain well organized, so I keep lists of what I have to do, by when, for whom, and what resources I need to get everything accomplished. I find in communications, a good rule of thumb is to expect the unexpected. When people can plan ahead, the unexpected becomes less overwhelming. My ability and need to plan has most definitely carried over to my personal life, as close friends and family can attest (I’m praised for this attribute about 70% of the time).
  1. I have had the opportunity to learn more than communications. I think it’s fair to say that everyone who has been in communications for at least a short period of time has learned something about communications. What I didn’t know is that I would also learn: when and why to purchase long-term care insurance; key principles of antitrust law; accounting disclosure requirements in the U.S.; the importance (and definition) of concentrator photovoltaics; how mid-sized B2B companies leverage technology to improve service to their customers and control costs; and a host of other incredibly cool – and unrelated – concepts. I’ve had to learn these things along the way because of the companies and industries that I’ve supported. It is amazingly rewarding to have that “aha!” moment when you can understand and communicate about something that you historically may have known nothing about.
  1. It made me a more empathetic person. Know your audience. That’s one of the first things I learned as a PR student at American University. It’s really important advice, but not just for those in communications and marketing. This also carries over to my personal life. I find that when approaching a person who’s a bit different from me, or someone who has a different perspective, I attempt to think through, “What motivates this person? What might resonate with him or her? How can I communicate what I need in a way that this person will understand? Have I taken the time to truly listen and understand what he or she wants?” Now, I’m human and am not always as empathetic as I should be, but my chosen field has given me the tools to ask critical questions and understand my “audience” better than I probably would have ordinarily.

I’d love to hear from you….what are you most grateful for about your chosen profession (communications and otherwise)?

I hope you all have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!