On Journalism and Careers

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As a student journalist, I have consistently been doing internships in my field since I started college. Looking back, I’d say that the first internship I had triggered my interest in journalism. I was a rookie reporter at the local paper, that’s for sure, but I learned that I liked jotting down notes from interviews and then turning that information into art for the summer. I had the chance to shadow the other reporters and see how they operated. At the same time, my work had a limited audience, given that I lived in a small town most people wouldn’t know about.

My experiences at my first internship helped me do well in my beginning journalism classes at UC Irvine. I felt like I had definitely picked the right major and that I was likely going to be a journalist after college. I continued to do two more journalism internships to get a feel for the career that I felt I’d do well in. Each had a different work environment and set of skills.

Then, sometime during my junior year in college I started Googling careers related to journalism and one of the biggest (and most promising) was a career in public relations. The pay for a public relations specialist was significantly higher than for a journalist (about $15,000 more of a median salary) and it seemed to offer more stability. I thought about it for a while. I’d get to write, edit, help clients and companies make the most of their businesses, work with the press, give speeches…it sounded like a dream.

I kept reading to see what the requirements were. A Bachelor’s in either journalism, communications, or English…check. Internships in journalism…check. Friendly and outgoing personality…check! I remember thinking, “People actually get paid to do what I would love to do every single day. Count me in.”

Since discovering that PR was a viable option for me, I have also gotten to learn skills outside of my field. I applied for a summer job which I actually took in the fall as a food service worker at the campus dining commons, and have started working at the campus library as a Special Collections and Archives Assistant. It’s nice to make a little money, and I think it’s also an excellent strategy for this generation of students–the more skills you have, the more employable you’ll be in the future.

Recently I landed a journalism internship at the UC Irvine ANTrepreneur Center. I think it’ll be a great opportunity to network with entrepreneurs, students, UCI faculty and local businesses. I will be doing plenty of interviewing and writing, and my work should hopefully reach a wider audience.

Choosing to work on campus was also part of my strategy. You can make it yours, too. Just think: if you live on campus or do not have to drive, it’s a win, and you have the opportunity to see your school a little differently. If you’ve admired the place you’d like to work for a while, you can become a part of what makes it great, and then you can become a representative and even raise the standard.

While everything seems to be falling into place, I’m scared. In one year I will no longer be in school. I’ll be on my own. At the moment I want to go to the Career Center to talk about public relations and what I might need to do differently next year. Interning at a p.r. firm seems promising, but I need to look into it more.

For those of you who haven’t started an internship or gotten a job offer during school, I encourage you to sit down and think seriously about your professional and personal goals. Consider your interests, as well. Write them down and put them in a place you can refer to often. Since I’m not an expert in career counseling I will not go any further except to say read a lot. In fact, read something of educational value every day, whether it is a short story, play, newspaper, magazine, etc. Just read, and I guarantee you’ll come upon one of your interests.

Do you have similar career strategies to mine? What advice would you give students or people seeking a career they feel is a smart move for them? Share your thoughts.

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Jennifer Jopson: Lessons From Travels Abroad

My guest blog for Jered on Live Declared.

Top Five Irish Adventures

Traveling to Ireland soon? Are you struggling to pin down the sites you want to see? Consider these places for your trip. You can visit them all in a week!

1. Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Known as the “glen of two lakes”, Glendalough boasts a scenic landscape that is hard for anyone to resist. The Upper Lake is a nice place to take pictures and skip rocks, and the walk to the 6th century monastery is both peaceful and mysterious. The graveyard is interesting, as several of the tombstones are indecipherable due to their age and St. Kevin’s Cross and the Round Tower are part of Irish folklore. Glendalough is also kid friendly, as there are grassy areas with natural features to scramble around on. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike up to the waterfall. I highly recommend the Wild Wicklow Tour–my guide was friendly, flexible and knowledgeable. You’ll see much more than Glendalough itself.

The monastery at Glendalough is utterly charming.
The monastery at Glendalough is utterly charming.

2. O’Neills, Co. Dublin
One of the most handsome, traditional pubs in Dublin, O’Neills is a gem that not every tourist knows about. It’s not far from St. Stephens Green and Trinity College. O’Neills is a great place to meet up with friends or to soak up the ambiance–they do traditional music every night and the food is pretty impressive. The Carvery is excellent (come hungry!) and the main menu offers something for everyone. While you should also experience Temple Bar, if you like to get away from hordes of people and always wanted to hear traditional music in a pub, this might be the place for you. I took my study abroad friends here and since then we’ve all returned numerous times.

My favorite place to unwind in Dublin.
My favorite place to unwind in Dublin.

3. Galway City, Co. Galway
You haven’t seen Ireland if you haven’t been to Galway in the West! They hold the biggest arts festival in the country and 20% of its population are college students. The main city is walkable–you can see most of it in two hours. Don’t rush, though, as you’ll want to enjoy a meal here and listen to street music. They have a farmer’s market, several fun shops and some beautiful attractions. The Spanish Arch area out by Galway Bay is a must-see, as well as Galway Museum right behind it and the Galway Cathedral close by.

Galway has an artsy feel: do not miss out!
Galway has an artsy feel: do not miss out!

4. Connemara, Co. Galway
Words can’t really express this place. The views are incredible. Driving around the peat bogs and seeing the idyllic-looking horses in the tall grass is essential to the Irish experience. My family drove quite close to Connemara National Park, which I hear is a must-see as well.

Take the Sky Road in Connemara for an awe-inspiring experience.
Take the Sky Road in Connemara for an awe-inspiring experience.

5. The Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
Though the Cliffs are probably the most popular tourist destination in Ireland, they are stunning. You can take a hike along the cliffs, called the Burren Way–for hours if you like. I had two hours to explore the Cliffs, and it was plenty of time for me. I would’ve liked to walk along the Burren Way for a considerable amount of time, but since I was on a tour I made a point to take photographs I’d love and study the various angles of the Cliffs. A word of caution: people do fall off the Cliffs, so stay AT LEAST three feet away from the edge. I’d double that amount in the event of strong winds and rain, because you have a higher chance of losing your balance and slipping. Just use your common sense and don’t risk your life for a picture! I recommend the Wild Rover tour for those of you who will not drive in Ireland: you’ll get two hours at the Cliffs, some time to stretch your legs and enjoy The Burren and two hours in Galway. The guides are fantastic, and the value is excellent for the price. I took the Wild Rover tour to Belfast, the Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, which I also recommend because unlike the Cliffs, there are no stone barriers at all–you get to walk around it all.

Pick a clear, sunny day to visit the Cliffs of Moher for the best views.
Pick a clear, sunny day to visit the Cliffs of Moher for the best views.

Thanks for reading! Please share your thoughts: did I miss something people have to go see? What was your experience like in Ireland?

10 Observations on the Irish Culture

Ireland uncovered!

  1. The Irish people are friendly. Yes, the stereotype is true. If you’re trying to find your way, Dubliners are more than happy to help you. Most of the people I’ve talked to give excellent directions and they take the time to listen to you. If you greet a complete stranger, you’re likely to get insights into their personal lives before you part ways with them. Also, public service workers and shopkeepers will chat with you and offer their honest opinion on a product if you ask for it. Though they like customer assertiveness, if they don’t have it they won’t guilt you into buying something else.
  2. The Irish people are laid back. They just don’t rush. I notice that the average Irish person will enjoy life’s pleasant moments, whether it’s laughing, dancing, eating or drinking. If they complain, they don’t generally do it in public.
  3. That said, the Irish drive insanely fast. Sounds like a contradiction to number 2, doesn’t it? People are certainly in a hurry to get places in this country. Drivers tend to speed up when they see the red stop lights. Pedestrians beware: jaywalk with caution! When in doubt stay at the curb, even if you miss your bus across the street. Once I saw a woman and a child casually skip halfway across the street two seconds before a car whooshed by them.
  4. They don’t refrigerate their chicken eggs at SuperValu. Apparently it doesn’t matter whether you choose to refrigerate or leave them sitting out.
  5. You will hear Bruce Springsteen and U2 nearly every time you go to the city centre. I love it. It’s not “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, that’s for sure.
  6. Irish pubs are some of the best places to meet with friends and enjoy delicious food on the cheap. Many of them offer live, traditional music. Since living here, being at the pub is teaching me to sit and relax and not worry about things. Eating a meal with deliberation is a lost art in America, but here you can take a bite of hearty food and get lost in the pub environment. The older pubs have a cheeriness and an atmosphere that makes you think about the lively conversations that took place there, and the gleaming beers on tap and the whiskey bottles give it a rustic feel.
  7. Travel within Ireland is relatively easy. Car, bus, train, rail and plane–plenty of options. You can hit the coast in all directions in 3-4 hours from Dublin. Belfast in Northern Ireland (UK) is only a two-hour train trip away.
  8. The rain is bearable. I was very surprised that for it being winter and rainy almost every day, it’s not bad. Since precipitation actually warms the ground, it’s better than it being bitterly cold outside. If it rains early in the day it usually clears up and sometimes you can see the sun.
  9. They have an odd sense of humor in TV ads. While they portray the fresh and happy lifestyles of the Irish, they will say something humorous and go on like it is the natural thing to do. For an American abroad, it’s comical.
  10. Getting away from the city centre is good for you. Being away from the frantic shoppers, traffic congestion and touristy places allows for a well-rounded experience of Ireland. Go outside, ride a bike and explore the little towns.
The music is fantastic at The Porter House.
The music is fantastic at The Porter House.

Ashton Kutcher Was Right

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you.”
–Ashton Kutcher

On August 11, 2013 Ashton Kutcher delivered a powerful speech at the Teen Choice Awards, though I’m not positive that every screaming teenage girl in the audience heard him. I’ve admired Ashton for a while now, and I was even more impressed with him after I watched his speech online. It’s been a month since he gave the speech, and I can’t seem to get the above quote out of my head. This morning I re-watched his speech and noted how composed and serious he was when he said the words. He sounded sincere and paused for the applause after the first sentence, and by the end of it he punctuated the words in a near yell. His simple quote is an affirmation of the things I stand for.

Being really smart brings to mind my wish that everyone desired education. Our growing world has ample opportunities for us to learn: public, private and online colleges and universities, the Internet, work, print and online books and even apps. We have access to these devices and institutions at flexible costs for many budgets–there is no excuse not to use them.

Being thoughtful is easy. Show people you care by spending time with them, keeping your commitments and expressing your gratitude often.

Being generous doesn’t have to mean becoming a philanthropist and showering your friends with expensive gifts. Give what you can. If you have a little time to help a friend on a Saturday night, go do it. Even better, don’t expect a pat on the back when you do the favor. Generous people are more likely to have the acts reciprocated than those who aren’t. Also, studies show that they are the happiest people and tend to be less lonely.

What’s the crap, then? The crap is being vain and believing you always come first. The crap is caring about your appearance more than caring about what you think and why you think it. The crap is saying that you have learned everything there is to know–this is impossible, as each day is a new day and with that brings fresh learning. How do we avoid the crap? My advice is stick to the three things Ashton talked about. You’ll be fine.

It is my hope that the kids who nominated him learned something that night. Thanks for reading–I’ve included the video of Ashton’s speech here.

On Moral Agency and Assertiveness

For some reason, I’ve hesitated to write about anything spiritual on my Blog, the biggest reason being my personal development. I find that sometimes I have a hard time expressing my emotions or opinions in writing. I like to hide myself, my take, on a subject through humor or memoirs. It hasn’t been easy comparing myself against other writers who seem to take charge and say “THIS is how I feel, and I want you to know why.”

But now I am finally ready to get real for once and talk about something dear to my heart, without comparing myself to anyone else.

I speak of moral agency in terms of my being a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon). The quotes I have included come from teachings of the church doctrine, which I support. I’ve been a member all my life and have discovered the church’s truthfulness for myself. That being said, I hope I can enlighten you and share my own experiences on the topic.

Moral agency is really two things in one. It is our freedom to make decisions, and it is the power we have to choose good over evil. Let me break it down further.

Many of life’s decisions are simple. For example, last night I planned to wake up early this morning so I could be productive today. I ended up waking to the alarm and going back to sleep, and did not get moving until around 11 AM. Thus, I faced consequences beyond my control which led me to run errands late in the day and feel like I had wasted valuable time. There are, of course, larger decisions we can make. I try to live my life as Christlike as possible, and it means that I make some sacrifices. I do not drink, smoke or participate in activities that would drive away the spirit. I am not saying that I haven’t been tempted or that the high standards I set for myself are a terrible burden on me. Living this way is, in fact, a blessing because I know if I were to give in and break my trust with God that I would not be nearly as happy.

Along with agency, we are also given trials in this life. They are for our benefit. The trials test our agency. I especially like this quote, given by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion, which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain…. to exercise faith is the trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good.

–Richard G. Scott

Once again I see that we weren’t sent here as perfect beings. Instead, it is up to us to work on our perfection so that we can live and become like Him. Both Elder Todd D. Christofferson and Robert D. Hales’ talks go into detail about the greatest example of moral agency: Jesus Christ.

I believe that much of the Lord’s power is attributable to the fact that He never wavered in that determination. He had a clear, consistent direction. Whatever the Father desired, Jesus chose to do.

–Elder Todd D. Christofferson

I have seen many blessings come from moral agency. I am responsible for my actions and if I mess up I can fix it. I also don’t worry about disappointing anyone but myself. Real power and accomplishment come from making wise choices. If we persevere and choose the right, all things are possible.

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Why Frozen Food is Such a Waste

I’m a college student, which means two things when I think about food: 1) I want it cheap and 2) I want it convenient. (Even better is free food). Last year I bought frozen food at the grocery store, like many college students do. Along with the fruits and veggies I picked up, I’d spend a ridiculous amount of time searching for frozen food that I thought would be edible and quite delicious. Going into it I knew there were plenty of preservatives and ingredient lists that barely fit on the box. But I kept buying it and making a sad face when the food disappeared from my freezer. Then, at the end of the school year I realized I had to start cooking on my own, as my roommate would not be around to cook dinners for me anymore. * It wasn’t like I had never cooked before–I could follow recipes and I usually didn’t burn food. My parents had me make dinner at home many times. I felt fairly confident in my abilities. All I needed was a cookbook.

Back in my pathetic frozen food days, I was a snob for sure. But I paid for my snobbery, and here’s why.

Pros:

Home cooked food is generally healthier for you than frozen food.

This one is just common sense. There is usually a lot of salt packed into the food and enough preservatives to kill a small animal. When you cook at home, you control the ingredients that go into a recipe–you can modify a recipe to fit your lifestyle and the nutritional value is higher.

It brings out your creativity.

Frozen food is lame because all you have to do is tear open the box and heat up your food in the microwave. You’re not doing anything cognitive. However, cooking is awesome because you can substitute ingredients and learn how to make complicated meals. You can garnish your food and plate with sauces, herbs and fruit for special occasions or otherwise. If you want to learn to make a certain style of food, you can. Yesterday I noticed I had a bunch of chicken broth to use up, so I glanced at the recipe on the back of the container and saw that I had most of the ingredients already. To make new yummy food, think about what’s in your refrigerator now.

You end up saving money.

I used to think paying $5-8 for two meals in the frozen food section was a real deal. But it’s really only two meals. When you cook a meal that serves four people and you’re feeding only yourself, you might spend $15-20 depending on the recipe. The payoff comes when you store the leftovers and realize you have enough for six meals and not four.

You save time.

Think about the time you spend selecting frozen food items. Then think about the time you could spend checking ingredients off your list as you walk through the grocery store. if you know what you need already, chances are you can find it quickly. Also, when you make a bunch of meals in advance at home, that’s time you don’t have to spend shopping or cooking.

You can store your homemade food in the freezer, and it will last for months.

This is a great advantage! As long as you place your food in freezer-safe containers or Ziploc bags and store it properly, you can enjoy a meal you made several weeks later.

You can impress people with your skills.

Invite people over when you hone a recipe. Eating is a very social activity, and not many people will turn you down if the food is hot and mouth-watering. They will probably ask you how to make it or what your secret is.

Home cooked food tastes so much better!

Of course it does. After the first time you try a frozen entrée, it loses its magic. The food you make yourself, though, doesn’t get old as easily.

Cons:

You may get tired of lunch.

This is true. I need to get more creative at lunchtime, because I either eat leftovers from dinner or make a sandwich. It’s all for the sake of saving money. The goal is not to starve yourself, so try light entrées.

You may have to make two trips to the store in a week.

The grocery store depresses me because it is expensive. But hey, you might get some good exercise in.

You will learn something new whether you like it or not.

Patience is one thing I have learned from cooking on my own. The dish might not taste fantastic the first time you make it, and the time you need to cook something will vary. Also, learning to prep food in a quick and efficient way is beneficial.

Ultimately, frozen food can’t win over home cooked goodness. You will be healthier and a lot less dissatisfied with your food if you take the time to cook. Two cookbooks I recommend for college students (and anyone!) are How To Cook Everything-The Basics by Mark Bittman and the Taste of Home Cookbook 3rd Edition.

*This is VERY rare for a roommate to do. I fully appreciated every meal Vanessa cooked for my roommates and me. The thing is, she liked to cook for us!