Shifting gears in pursuit of happiness

MRU student revives her creative side with public relations major


Photo of Jamila Kanji.

Mount Royal University student Jamila Kanji hopes to one day pursue a master’s degree.



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Bachelor of Communication ― Public Relations student Jamila Kanji always knew she had a creative spirit, but ignored her passion until she felt stifled by a career path in medicine. It wasn’t until after finishing a degree in health sciences at a big Ontario university and had begun working that she knew she was on the wrong track.

“The job I was in during my health sciences phase of life kind of killed the creative side of me,” Kanji says. “I realized I was so unhappy, despite finishing a degree in health science. I had to shift gears.”

A believer that you can make your own happiness, Kanji began her search for something that would better align with her true passions.

“One day, I took a career test and I got about 50 options. I forced myself to research them all,” she says.

That career test led Kanji to call a local Calgary public relations (PR) firm to learn more about the field. Convinced it was the next move she should make, Kanji returned to her Calgary roots to pursue the communication degree at Mount Royal.


"You just can’t ‘get by’ in PR. You can’t just think that if you get in, you’re set. You have to grow as a person. You can’t be apathetic."

Jamila Kanji


“When I came here, I just felt like I was part of something. Like I was part of a community,” says Kanji.

It was in her first class, Introduction to Public Relations, Kanji says that she knew she had made the right choice. She credits her professors, who actively work in the field, and the early career preparation ― like the building of a portfolio ― for cementing her decision.

“I’m the type of person who learns by doing,” Kanji says, who has already landed a full-time role at a crisis communication firm, thanks in part to working with real clients for school projects, jobs over three summers and professors who helped rebuild her confidence. But Kanji’s success in the program has been bolstered by her early engagement.

“You just can’t ‘get by’ in PR. You can’t just think that if you get in, you’re set. You have to grow as a person. You can’t be apathetic,” she says, adding that she took advantage of every opportunity on campus to volunteer, learn and build on her experience.

Learning from her early transition from one career path to another, Kanji dabbles in many different courses in order to try new things to see what sticks. She suggests other students do the same.

“Stay curious!” Kanji says, who after trying several business classes, including an accounting class, landed on a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Kanji hopes to one day pursue a master’s degree and is loving her new career in PR consulting.

Jan. 6, 2020