Advocacy is a term that defies a short, simple definition because advocates work in many types of capacities and fields. Some include self-advocates, peer advocates, citizen advocates, legal advocates and professional advocates. There are also human rights advocates, public relations advocates and patient advocates. In short, the career possibilities are virtually endless for people interested in becoming professional advocates. If you decide this is the right career objective for you, you can get started by enrolling in a communications degree program from Grand Canyon University.
Advocate for a cause you are passionate about.
If you genuinely care about your cause, you have the potential to be an effective advocate. Advocacy requires a great deal of patience, perseverance and persuasion. When you are passionate about your cause, this will be evident to your audience, and your message will come across more strongly and clearly. While you are an undergraduate, spend some time thinking about the causes in life that are most important to you. Perhaps you want to help end veteran homelessness, speak up on behalf of children with autism, or improve federal oversight for the food supply to reduce preventable food poisoning deaths. Whatever it is that sparks your interest and drive, there will be ways of building a career out of it.
Practice assertive, but not aggressive, communication.
Strong communication is at the heart of what advocates do. Some people seem to have an innate knack for communication, but even if you do not, you can learn how to be a better communicator. Professional advocates must be assertive and persistent to get their message across. Since assertiveness can sometimes inadvertently appear to be colored with aggressiveness, you should practice speaking in a firm tone of voice, but not a harsh one. Practice keeping your body posture relaxed while speaking—but not so relaxed that you look inattentive. Above all, have confidence in what you are saying.
Become an active listener.
Truly great advocates are those who understand that communication is a dynamic, multi-directional flow of information and ideas. If you want people to listen to you, you need to demonstrate that you care about what they have to say. Practice being an active listener by shutting out background noise and giving speakers your full attention. Pay attention to their non-verbal cues too, such as their body language, expressions, and gesticulation. Ask open-ended questions that do not imply an expectation of a particular answer.
Be willing to devote time to preparation.
Part of being an effective advocate has little to do with speaking or listening. Be prepared to do plenty of research about the issues at hand. If you become an advocate for the homeless, for instance, you should be intimately familiar with applicable laws and policies, statistics, currently available resources and the needs that have yet to be met.
A degree from Grand Canyon University can open the door to a rewarding and spiritually fulfilling career path. Click on the Request More Information button on this webpage and check out our diverse range of B.A. degrees from our College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Earning your Bachelor of Arts in Communications will give you the versatile skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as a professional advocate.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.