8 weeks. 56 days. 1,344 hours.
No matter how you divide the time, those numbers represent how long I have until I walk across the Miller Auditorium stage to receive my degree from Western Michigan University.
To say I am nervous would be an understatement. I’m confident I can make it across the stage without tripping (well, maybe) but what scares me is after I cross that stage. Once I cross that stage I will no longer be editor-in-chief of the Western Herald or even a student.
With eight weeks until I graduate, I have fully immersed myself in the job search. I am constantly frequenting job posting websites in the search of the perfect job.
So yes, I am scared, but more than that I am excited. With every job description I read, I see the things I need to improve on, the positions I am qualified for and I experience the rush of sending off a package with my resume, cover letter and clips.
Searching for a job takes an enormous amount of self-motivation. I don’t have someone to tell me I need to do this or that. With the experience I have had so far through job searching, I have learned several things about myself.
I am motivated. I am optimistic. I am nervous. I am prepared. I am realistic.
I am ready for whatever the future has in store for me.
Searching for a job is scary, but it is enriching.
While this topic is wholly late, the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Michigan Press Association annual conference is all that is on my mind today. The experience is one I will never forget and one that I wish I had participated in before.
On Jan. 31 at the early hour of 5:30 a.m., I forced myself out of bed in order to make it to the first seminar of the MPA conference at 9 a.m. The first session, as all of the rest did, lit the fire in my heart to work on improving the Western Herald even more. My head was racing with ideas on audience engagement, paper layout and even simply headline writing. I learned so much more than I ever expected to.
As the day went on, I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Rapids Brewing Company and the MLive/Grand Rapids newspaper hub. I have never seen so many dedicated and enthusiastic student journalists in one room. It was an enriching experience. Not to mention the number of professional journalists I was able to speak with.
On Feb. 1, my fiance drove to Grand Rapids to watch me receive an award and check that named me a Michigan Press Association Foundation Milliman Scholar. I will never forget that moment. While I am sure graduation in April will be a culmination of all of my accomplishments, becoming a Milliman scholar ranks right up there.
I may only have a couple of months left before I graduate from Western Michigan University, the MPA conference gave me an even more pointed sense of direction in what I wish to accomplish during my life.
I am sitting in my bed with “Santa Clause 3″ playing and thoroughly avoiding my need to study for my Spanish final exam tomorrow. But, while the difference between ser and estar is thoroughly lodged into the back of my brain, I have been wandering to the fact that in five months I will be crossing the stage with my Bachelors degree (hinging of course on the fact that I need to do well on this Spanish exam).
The question that has been pestering me as I look to my graduation day is: Did I do everything that I wanted to do in college?
I’ve never been to a stereotypical “college party.” I have never joined ten different RSO’s. I never made a million friends, for the most part my Facebook friends list didn’t increase even 100 people.
I interned at the Kalamazoo Gazette, a newspaper I grew up reading. I banded with people at WMU who care about student media and successfully worked to save the Western Herald, WIDR and Young Broadcasters of Tomorrow. I got engaged to my boyfriend of eight years. I made an amazing friend out of an outstanding coworker. I rose from a girl too shy to say hi to someone, to a person that leads the student newspaper with no fear (well maybe a little), a die hard passion and a desire to improve every day.
I have learned so many skills that I will use my entire life, both personally and professionally. There is nothing better than that.
So, I may not have made thousands of friends, but the people I have befriended have made all of the difference in my world. I am blessed to have the opportunities, friends, family and pure passion that I have.
I am scared to walk through this last semester, but I am so ready to open up a whole new set of adventures.
Time has flown. I am now a quarter of the way through my job as editor-in-chief of the Western Herald. There are so many things that I am proud of and so many things I want to continue to improve throughout the rest of the year.
To start, with the help of the Herald’s graphic designer, we changed the front page design of the print edition. It used to be a designed cover with tiny nods to stories inside, now it looks like this:
It’s always a work in progress but I like the new look because it looks like a newspaper and lets readers know what is actually in the paper.
In addition to the changes to the print edition, there have been an increased number of letters to the editor coming in. I love the reader and WMU student interaction. Having the news is one thing, but having reader input brings the purpose of the Western Herald full circle.
To read some of the letters, visit this link: http://www.westernherald.com/category/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/.
Looking to the rest of the year, my goals are longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list. Daily I strive to find better stories, more engaging topics and better ways to lead. But for the long-term I work to set a even firmer foundation for editors and reporters after me. Having ground to stand on is the simplest way to be able to build the floors. Editors before me got me to some pretty high floor levels, but I hope to add a few more floors before the end of the year.
I never thought that I would have to think so much. It’s not as if I spend hours just thinking about things, but it’s the simple fact that at every second I am trying to organize, remember and provide handfuls of helpful information.
While this beginning paragraph may appear as a complaint, it is the furthest thing from bad. While my head has been pounding throughout the week, I also know that I have accomplished so much and that the lessons I learn will help propell me into a satisfying career.
This week was the first of many weeks being Editor-in-chief of the Western Herald, and I love it–good, bad and everything in between.
Here’s a list of things I have already learned:
- Prioritizing is vital to success. At any given moment I am editing a story, fixing a website problem, teaching someone something, meeting new people and going to school. I need to get ahead when I can and not completely lose it when I get behind.
- As busy as I am, other people are too. Editors and reporters at the Western Herald are going to school, interviewing, learning, editing stories and making the Herald amazing too. I am not alone.
- Communication is key. It eliminates confusion.
- ALWAYS be thinking of story ideas. You never know when a lull in news will come, be prepared to fill it.
- Journalism is far from dead. Throughout the course of this week I would have sworn that the Herald was a revolving door. Numerous applicants visited the office and as an editor, this made all of the negative disappear.
- Stuff happens. Stories fall through. Papers have to be delivered. Prepare for the unexpected and don’t assume that just because you are a journalist, you won’t end up doing some unexpected physical labor.
This week has been an education within itself and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to partake in MANY more weeks of this education.
Please take the time to read the westernherald.com and read about all of the happenings at Western Michigan University!
Western Michigan University is considering moving to a tobacco-free campus.
Now, for all of the official facts and full story, you can read this article that I wrote for the Western Herald about the tobacco-free policy.
But what I want to talk about it how this influences the WMU community. In March, there was a vote on two student initiatives–student media and aviation shuttle–but these affect only students. A tobacco-free policy would influence students, faculty and just regular visitors.
Students alone number 25,000 at WMU. There are over 4,000 faculty and staff members. And the number of visitors? The numbers, I expect, are exceedingly high.
When reporting, I received numerous comments about enforcement of the policy. Currently, the policy is limited to self-policing. Would this have to change to have a successful tobacco-free policy?
Another important point is that this proposed policy is not just a smoke-free policy, it is a tobacco-free policy. Not only does the policy eliminate cigarettes on campus, but other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco.
I’ve spoken with numerous people who have shared a wide variety of viewpoints and only one thing is sure:
It’s a big task for a University to take on. As the year continues on, I am sure that I will see numerous opinions and a divide between those for and against the policy.
What do you think about the policy?
At a soaking wet weight of 110 pounds, I walked a mile through the Milwood neighborhood of Kalamazoo to get to my first job interview. I was 16 years old, didn’t have a car and was shyer than a first-grader meeting their teacher for the first time. But, at 16, I had my eye on the money.
I remember walking into the pizza place, nervous to even say hello. The boss took me back to a tiny little room and asked me some things I don’t remember because I was so nervous. But despite the fact that I sat there like a fly stuck to sticky paper, I got the job.
I was so happy. It was a sense of independence to have my own income. I loved it.
Students’ working through school is no new thing. According to National Center for Education Statistics, in 2005 just under 50 percent of full-time college students were employed.
I started this job in high school, but I kept it through 3 years of college as well. In Feb. 2013, I made a decision I had been contemplating for a long time. I decided to leave my pizza job in favor of the opportunity to move higher up at the Western Herald.
It was the best decision I ever made. But I don’t for a second regret my four years in the pizza business because I learned why it is important to have a job while going to school. Some of the things I learned include:
- It’s not all about the money. The money is nice, but I also learned timeliness, responsibility and pride for the things I did well.
- You will never work in a place where you get along with everyone. Disputes always happen because conflict is just a part of life. But I learned how to deal with conflicts.
- You learn time management. At the beginning of 2013, I was working 25 hours making pizzas, 30 hours for the Herald and going to school full-time. I learned how to fit everything in because dropping the ball wasn’t an option.
- You learned about team work. You can’t run a pizza place by yourself and you most certainly can’t produce a newspaper by yourself.
Every single lesson I learned while slipping pizzas and rolling dough translates into what I want to do as a journalist. I may not be baking pizzas, but I am still cooking. Whether it be story ideas, stories or photographs, some idea is always being mixed together in my head. And just like with pizzas, not every idea comes out delicious.
Every step I take influences the direction of my life. I am happy to say that even with all of the missteps, I am proud of where I am at.