Guest post: Studying public relations as a mature student

Mature student Nick Horbowyj is working seven days a week to gain work experience and pay his way through a public relations degree at Leeds Metropolitan. Its a tough gig but he reckons that it’s enabling him to realise his potential.

By Nick Horbowyj

At the age of 28 I thought it was a bold step to go back into full time education. Some thought of me brave, others drastic when I had already got a steady job in sales. My challenge was not my earning ability but that I had not fulfilled my potential.

I had been unable to attend university aged-18 so instead worked my way up the hospitality ladder, followed by several years in sales.

The motivation for my return to education was public relations. I got an insight into the industry during my time working in hospitality. I was fascinated by the industry’s ability to grow a company’s profile and profits without the age old methods of advertisements and traditional marketing.

The idea of reaching an audience by understanding the public and using communication skills seemed to fit my skill set. It was an obvious choice for me to enrol at Leeds Metropolitan University to study public relations and communications.

I’m somewhat different to the rest of my fellow students. I have a house, a partner and all of the usual attributes of life outside of the student world.
In order to sustain both worlds takes a great deal of work.

I attend university three days a week as well as working three days in a shop to pay the bills and I have recently taken on a day per week internship at a local agency.

A seven day week is not exactly ideal.

My partner rarely sees me, the housework is more often than not done late at night and if it wasn’t for coffee to motivate me in the morning I might still be in bed right now.

However I think that its a small price to pay to achieve what I see as a job that was made for me.  This life certainly isn’t for everyone however I know that the hard work will pay off in the long run.

Not only that I can definitely say that this is the biggest test of character I have ever endured and when I succeed I hope that future employers will see that if I can achieve this, I can achieve anything.

About Nick Horbowyj
Nick is a first-year student at Leeds Metropolitan University. He works at Quest PR in Harrogate and aspires to set up his own full service agency. Connect with Nick via Twitter @NickHorbowyj.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.


  1. Lovely piece Nick. I completely identify with your want to study public relations.

    Kind Regards,


  2. Great blog, Nick – but wouldn’t expect any less from you. It’s an absolute pleasure to work alongside you for one day a week. I am sure the fact that doing your PR degree isn’t an easy option for you makes you stand out from the crowd. You are exceptionally motivated, hugely talented and bring such energy and passion to your work with us at Quest.

  3. Nick’s welcome post makes me want to flip this on its head.

    While I warmly appreciate the opportunity to teach mature students, should we still be so accepting of immature* students?

    For one thing, university is now an expensive option, so you want people to choose wisely and benefit from the opportunities.

    For another thing, I’m not sure that you can any more learn public relations from lectures and textbooks than you can learn to drive just by studying the Highway Code.

    Public relations is not an easy, classroom subject (contrary to what some might thing). It’s a dynamic, challenging field that needs some seriously smart and ambitious people.

    * Immaturity is not solely defined by age. Some young people can be remarkably mature, so I’m not making a distinction based years lived. But some experience of life is helpful for understanding the complexities of relationships and communication.

  4. Nice post Nick. It is hard to get in to the industry when competing against so many others wanting the same thing.

    But from my experience, I’ve never known anybody not get a job within a year who has been talented and really wanted it – so i’m sure your hard work will pay off!

    More of this will work!

    But please, enjoy the television and a few pints now and then too.

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