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Tips for the Socially Anxious Communications Major

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

I am someone who has always struggled in new situations. College has helped me come out of my shell, but there are still times I get stressed out, especially when meeting new people.

Because of this, it seems odd that I would choose to be a communications major in college. A lot of my major consists of interviewing new people and putting myself in uncomfortable situations.

But even when it’s tough, majoring in journalism has made me a stronger and more confident person.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to thrive in a degree that demands that you leave your comfort zone. It may seem tough, but here are a few of the ways I manage to do it.

Bring a buddy

Especially in journalism, there will be times where you will have to stop people on the street and ask to interview them. The idea of doing this always terrified me and it still feels awkward to walk up to strangers and ask them for quotes.

In situations where I’ve needed to do this, I will sometimes bring a friend. There have been numerous times where I’ve enlisted friends to come out with my for interviews, staying in the background as silent moral support.

Knowing someone has my back makes me feel a lot better about approaching people. And if the interview goes horribly wrong, having someone to help laugh it off makes the situation better.

Find where You Thrive

When I came to Penn State, I quickly realized that news writing was not for me. It required putting myself in uncomfortable positions, which sometimes served as great learning experiences. However, I don’t see myself wanting to do it as my career.

Remember that communications is a vast field with so many options. Not every career is going to require interviews or being on camera. There are plenty of jobs that fall under the umbrella of communications that align with where you feel comfortable.

Taking a variety of courses within communications allows you to branch out and experience everything the field has to offer. You can also research jobs or talk to your advisor to see what opportunities you can pursue after college.

Plan Everything

Whenever you need to interview a subject or attend an event, make sure to schedule in advance. Having a set date allows you to mentally prepare yourself and it gives you the opportunity to create an environment that makes you comfortable

Even if you’re interviewing people on the streets, set a date and time ahead of time. Let someone else know your plans to keep you accountable. Doing it in advance also gives you the chance to go back for more quotes or information if you realize later on you don’t have enough.

Whenever possible, I do interviews a place where I feel the most comfortable. Typically it’ll be in my room, but finding a quiet place can help ensure the interview goes as smoothly as possible.

Setting yourself up for success means making yourself comfortable, and planning ahead gives you ample time to accomplish what you need.

Connections are everything

This is something important in a lot of programs, but the more people you know, the easier time you will have.

Whenever I know I have an article coming up, the first people I ask for ideas are my friends. All of them are in different majors and involved in different organizations, so it opens up new ideas I would have never heard of before.

You can also use your friends’ connections to help find sources. While directly interviewing your friends isn’t allowed in many settings, you can ask your friends if anyone they know would be interested in talking with you. Having that degree of connection might make your more comfortable than just approaching someone on the street.

Remind yourself why you’re doing it

I have reconsidered my major several times. I ask myself why I would willingly put myself in situations that make me anxious.

But then I remember why I love journalism. I love hearing people’s stories and sharing them with a wider audience. I love learning more about the world and my place in it.

Whenever you’re not feeling confident about your decision to major in communications, remind yourself why you wanted to do it in the first place. Let that motivate you through the bad days and be a reminder of the impact you’ll make during the good days.

It’s not always easy, but writing has helped me become a more confident person. And I can’t wait to see what comes next on this journey.

Emma is a junior from Randolph, New Jersey, double majoring in journalism and human development and family studies with a minor in addictions and recovery. When she's not writing you can find her watching "Big Brother," drinking Diet Coke or trying to explain internet drama to her dad.