It has been around three months since I started working at the Evening Sun full time, and in light of my colleague Zack's departure, I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at my own journey so far.
My decision to pursue a career in journalism is not something I took lightly. In fact, it was a decision I had been mulling over for about three years before I finally did something about it.
I have spent my life trying to figure out who I am and what I want. I have jumped from idea to idea, but never settled on a career choice for long.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a detective, then a forensic pathologist. In college I switched from anthropology, to art, to philosophy.
Then, around three years ago, I read a novel about a journalist and thought, "Hey! I could do this!"
I have always loved to write, but I had never written anything like a newspaper article before, aside from the school paper I wrote for in elementary school, which felt like a lifetime ago.
Also, my only job experience was in the service industry. Reporting is very different, but the common thread of serving the community was another big draw for me. I knew I wanted a career where I felt like I had a purpose and like I was making a difference, and journalism checked that box.
For months, I researched what being a reporter was like, what would be expected of me, and the type of schooling necessary to get a job in the journalism field. I spent some time practicing writing articles, too.
But, the thought of returning to school was daunting. In-person classes weren't an option, but I was unfamiliar with an online setting and how that would work. And of course the financial aspect of putting yourself through college wasn't anything I felt equipped to handle.
I was also pointedly aware that I don't stick with job ideas for long. That thought was always in the back of my mind: Will I still want to do this a year from now? Five years from now?
And so, my goals were put on the back burner. It just didn't feel possible at the time. But, I still kept up with my creative writing and research into the job I felt I wanted.
Finally, last summer, I found a school that seemed to fit my needs. It was online, which meant self-motivating to get my school work done, which is not one of my strong suits and would certainly be an adjustment. But the ability to plan my own degree and fit my schoolwork into my schedule was enticing.
It had been three years of dreaming about this job, surely that meant I was really sticking to it this time, right? I bit the bullet and applied to college.
After I was accepted, the few months of figuring out courses, financial aid, and meetings with my advisor were a struggle. But I made it through, and by January I was starting my first semester.
My plan had been to finish my degree by next summer, and then apply to the Evening Sun. But, in an incredible stroke of luck, and a well-timed Facebook message from Zack, I found myself applying as early as February.
I was originally hired on to do freelance work, which I found was a much easier transition into the job as I had no experience working for a newspaper.
Seeing my byline in the paper for the first time was thrilling. The support and excitement from my family, friends, and even coworkers was more than I ever could have asked for.
Still, though, it was an adjustment going from working one part time job to two, plus full time college classes on top of it, and entering a new field with no experience was intimidating.
Within a month or two I was offered a full time position. It was unexpected but arguably one of the most exciting moments of my life. Here I was, only a few months into earning a journalism degree, and I had already landed a full time position at a newspaper.
My first day at my new job arrived, and I was nervous. I knew there would be a lot to learn, and a lot to get used to. I had never worked a full time job before, and was still firmly stuck in a night-shift schedule.
I am happy to say I have been majorly lucky. Not just in getting the job in the first place, but also the work environment I found myself in. I was met with a warm reception, both from Evening Sun employees and employees of the company as a whole.
Since starting this job I have been given both support and freedom from colleagues. Freedom to chase the stories I want, but support when I am unsure or need help. I don't think a day has passed without someone telling me I'm doing a good job.
Despite all this, I will admit there have been challenges. My work hours vary, between deadline, meetings, interviews, and events I need to cover. This is a vast difference from the two nights of bartending a week that I was used to. Trying to stay on top of my schoolwork has proven to be challenging as well, and I ended up reducing my hours from full time to part time.
And, of course, I am not infallible. I have made some small mistakes in my time here, and they never fail to rattle me. I am acutely aware of the responsibility I have as a reporter, and when I slip up I can't help but feel like I've failed.
I've also worried about my habit of changing career goals. That voice was still in the back of my head my first few weeks: Will I still want to do this a year from now? Five years from now? I was so worried now that I had finally gotten here, I wouldn't like it. I was worried I would get bored.
That was not the case. For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm doing what I was meant to do. It is incredibly rewarding to provide a service to the public, to meet all these wonderful people who contribute to our community, and to be able to write for a living.
Friends and family members have told me they're proud of me. Strangers have even approached me and complimented me on my work.
Three months in, and I am nothing but excited for what the future holds. There are still parts of the job that can be intimidating, but they are getting easier.
I am no longer plagued by anxiety over whether or not my interest will fade. My job is exciting, rewarding, and I can't imagine ever getting bored or wanting to do something else.
I am still attending school and learning all that I can about the field, and I am lucky enough to be getting job experience at the same time. Reading about doing it is one thing, but nothing compares to the actual process of finding a story, interviewing sources, and writing out the article.
I know I still have a lot to learn, but I already feel that I have come so far. The transitions I've gone through this year were wildly unexpected, but an incredible gift that I have not taken for granted.
I can't wait to see what the future brings, and I look forward to many more years at the Evening Sun.