CC APR StudyDoes anyone else want to go buy some school supplies and head back to class after seeing all the cute back-to-school photos flying around social media today? This summer, I embarked on my own, personal version of back-to-school by pursuing my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), which involves presenting a portfolio of work to a panel of accredited professionals, studying and sitting for the APR examination.

While everyone else was laying out clothes and packing lunches yesterday, I was sitting in a testing center taking a comprehensive exam on public relations, business, law, communications theory and ethics.

Now that the presentation and exam are both behind me, I just have to say that it has been the most valuable professional development investment I’ve ever made. I thought this whole process would be more of an exercise in demonstrating my knowledge, skills and abilities, rather than actually improving them.

Since I got my degree in public relations and have been practicing in the field since 2008, I didn’t think I was the type of candidate that would have a lot to learn from the process. Boy, was I wrong!

With real-world experience under my belt, the material I studied in college has so much more meaning and relevance. Reviewing best practices and core concepts (and even re-reading my PR textbooks) has been extremely valuable to my day-to-day work, and the whole process has truly helped me up my game in strategic planning, research and evaluation of the PR programs we deliver for our clients.

I still have to wait a few more weeks to get my results, but no matter what happens, I’ve never felt more empowered and equipped to practice public relations.

For those of you considering going back to school or participating in continuing education in your field, the timing will never be perfect…so you might as well bite the bullet and take advantage of the school supply clearance sales next week.

Photo credit: Tamara (ThingsPondered).

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