I’m on the home stretch of my first year studying journalism. I have loved this adventure more than I expected to. As much as I can thrive under the “lecture and essay” type of education, nothing beats practical experience. These are four of the lessons I’ve learned over the past seven months.
- I don’t want to be a “journalist” and that’s ok: People enter different fields for different reasons. I originally avoided studying journalism because I didn’t like the way news is produced. The more I study this field, the more turned off I get to all of the negativity and curated rundowns of “if it bleeds it leads.” What I have learned, though, is that I love using different tools and media to tell stories that are authentic and true in a creative way. Everyone asks if my dream job is to be a reporter. Absolutely not. I know I’ll find my niche but it isn’t the traditional “journalist/reporter/anchor.”
- Jumping out of your comfort zone: I’m kind of a shy person and I’m definitely an introvert. This is how I am naturally, but it doesn’t count as an excuse to not do my job. For many assignments, I’ve had to go out to events and talk to people, film them, and take their photos. There’s something about being that potentially annoying person in the crowd that forces you to get over yourself pretty quickly. You learn how to take “no” not personally and you learn that sometimes you have to take initiative outside of your comfort zone to be rewarded with a great quote or a great shot.
- People are just people: I’ve talked to an MP, a literary agent, doctors, firemen, lawyers, random people in the bus shelter, dog trainers, an art teacher, students and so many more people. If you approach people kindly, if you make them feel like they are helping you, if you listen intently and treat them with respect and interest, people are generally awesome to talk to. And people are just people. Some have jobs with intimidating titles and some are incredibly intelligent, but if you are willing to learn from them, people usually love talking about themselves and what they do. Honestly everyone kind of seems the same after a while: really normal. We’re all human.
- You reap what you sow: What you invest into a project really determines what you will get out of it, both personally and from a marks perspective. I’ve been trying to get creative with my assignments, to challenge myself, and to have fun with it. I think that is partly why I’ve been enjoying this schooling experience so much. Rather than passively doing readings and listening to lectures, I’m constantly being asked to produce content, to be creative, and to take initiative to learn from others. I’ve really focused on pushing myself to grow through my schoolwork. It has been a much richer experience for me to dive in and to allow my assignments to teach me, rather than to tick off the boxes just for the grade.
School is a place to grow. It teaches you how to think. Honestly, though, a lot of the time, learning is up to you. You can engage passively and get the degree, or you can engage actively and network, build your portfolio, make friends, and laugh a bunch along the way. You’ll take so much more away from school- or wherever you are learning- if you dive in and try to swim further than you ever have before. Take some risks, don’t be afraid to be wrong the first time, and look for ways to make your assignments interesting and fun to you. You’ll be richer for it.