Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Journalism = life lessons

Journalism = life lessons

As the title suggests, I've learned over these past three years that being a journalist has helped me in many areas of life outside of the news office. For anyone wondering what you could possibly do with a degree in English or Communications, here's a good idea of how being in the journalism business can impact your life.

When I first started working for The Express back in 2008, I wasn't quite sold on the idea of being a journalist. I took the internship because yes, I could write decently and no, I wasn't really good anything else. Over the years, my internship has led me on some pretty interesting adventures, introduced me to many wonderful people in the community, and has given me the opportunity to expand hone my writing style and skills...not to mention the behind the scenes access to events, free food, free movie tickets and gift cards from happy people whom I've written favorably about. And I've gotten a lot out of these things.

1. The connections. I know about 15 prominent members of the community that I could ask for letters of recommendation for should I ever need them. They are supportive, interesting and I can learn a lot from them. If I ever need anything around town, I know who to talk to. I know the best places to eat, who works there, and who owns them and the hours and phone numbers of all local businesses. I could pretty much be tour guide: Clinton County PA edition.

2. I can apply things I've learned in the office to other jobs. When I went for an interview to work in the financial aid office at my school, the woman interviewing me stressed the importance of confidentiality and was very concerned with students knowing how important it is. I was please I could tell her, oh yes, I know all about that from working at the newspaper and how important it is to keep sources anonymous who wish to remain so. I got the job. Then, when I moved on to work in the campus writing center I could tell the professor who was considering me that, oh yes, I know how to talk to people, I know how to get people to think critically though asking leading questions...I work at a newspaper. I got the job. Now, one wouldn't think you could apply journalism skills to a restaurant job, but you would be surprised.

Recently, it has come to my attention that I will need a second summer job. My friend works are the best restaurant in town and was able to get me an interview with the boss. She explained that I would need to work fast and deal with attitudes as it could get stressful when there are a lot of customers in the evening. Oh yes, I said, I'm used to working quickly under strict deadlines, I work at a newspaper. Also, everyone is always stressed and grumpy during deadline times at the newspaper. I got the job. (My friend who got me the job now in charge of training me) He went through all the stuff I had to do for the job and expected me to remember, where things were and the names of co-workers the first time he told me the information. Oh yes, I could recite it back to him (in detail) and do the job correctly, I'm used to taking in a lot of information really fast, I work at a newspaper and I have to interview people who talk really fast and remember what they told me.

3. The adventures. I've gotten to fly in an airplane, attend expensive dinners, meet government officials, cover high profile court cases, attend a Hindu wedding ceremony, get a history lesson from people who have lived 100 years and much, much more. Not to mention hear many touching and harrowing stories of people who have suffered great loss or experienced such tragedy and were able to overcome, and make the best of it, like the story of the mission worker who was in Haiti during the earthquake or the 15 year old cheerleader who died of cancer and inspired her team members to fundraise to help others.

4. Writing skills. The ability to convey your point quickly, briefly, clearly and in a way that everyone can understand is pretty much journalism 101. And who wouldn't want to apply this is creative writing as well? In today's day and age, everyone wants everything quickly and not to mention identifying major plot points to grab readers is a skill all writers should strive for anyway. Journalism has helped me master this in my writing of leads for stories and I've applied to my fiction too.

5. The free stuff...well this speaks for itself. Its good stuff, and I don't have to pay for it. What's not to love? Plus, there is always food in the office that I can eat for free. A lot of people bring in goodies for us as a sign of appreciation.

So to anyone out there considering journalism, go for it! You won't be disappointed.

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