TURNING THE TIDE 2.0

Dear all,

Hello! It has been some time since I last sat down and wrote a Blog. I regret not taking the time to write, because so many special things happened over the summer, and I wish I had kept some sort of record on TURNING THE TIDE. To make up for the all the posts I didn’t write, I’d like to take a moment to tell you a bit about my summer, this blog and myself.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m from NorCal and I’m a literary journalism major at University of California, Irvine. Yes, I’m a writer, borne from my love of reading. I am a freelance writer for two startup companies, and plan to move into public relations this fall. This is my final year of college. I’m really excited to use my potential to do good, but I’m definitely nervous at the same time!

Summer highlights:

– Landed my dream journalism internship at the UCI ANTrepreneur Center. I learned the importance of networking, how to listen and how to talk to anyone. This internship helped me find my first public relations opportunity.

– Went on a backpacking trip with my uncles, in NorCal. Want to read more? Check out my article. 🙂

– Had a great time with my friends at the beach on multiple occasions. Having a car is wonderful!

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When I started this blog, I had trouble pinpointing exactly what interested me and keeping readers engaged. I would write about some pretty random stuff. Then, I branched out into writing prompt style posts, which got a bit more traffic. I think the most recent stage was when I wrote about study abroad in Ireland.

Now, I am going to try something new! My new theme makes my blog pop, and motivates me to write engaging content. There’s something deeply satisfying in straying away from a traditional look. Besides the theme, the content will change. From here on out, the blog will focus on photography, student life, careers and current events. Occasionally I will do a writing prompt if I need the practice. I think my new direction will keep me on my toes, since I’ll need to read the news, search for interesting subjects, etc. That said, I’m going to post at least once a week, on Mondays.

To all my past readers, thanks for reading this post and following my blog. I appreciate your patience, and I’m sorry to have left you hanging this summer! I look forward to seeing what you’re up to and will do my best to maintain a presence here on WordPress.To first time visitors, I hope that we can connect. If one of my posts inspires you, please don’t hesitate to comment on it. I’ll take a look at your blog, too.

Cheers,

–Jennifer

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.

Dear Patch, I Miss You

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I am truly going through withdrawal, and it is painful. Why did I have to leave?

This last quarter I wrote for San Clemente Patch as an intern through UCI. Patch is an online news source sponsored by Huffington Post and AOL. Editors of the different Patch websites appoint freelancers, interns and other contributors to write about the arts and entertainment, local news, sports and more. I interned at Patch because it was very educational and a way for me to get some bylines. It was my second writing internship and I felt ready to do more in-person interviews and add variety to my portfolio, which then consisted of sports articles, business profiles and current events.

As it turns out, I only spent one night interviewing people but made it a point to try out new, more challenging articles than at Siskiyou Daily News.

What was different about it? Well, for one, I wanted to embrace articles that were a little more difficult to write, articles that informed people. While crime blotters are not very intellectually stimulating, they take good judgment to decide what to include, and they also follow a particular style. So I learned this, and tackled some city council items, like this one. You do not want to know how long this took to put together 5 paragraphs that stated clearly what the issue was and what action the council wanted to take. Learning to do articles that aren’t typically your style is a good way to get into the journalism business.

All of this was strictly for the experience. Plus, I had fun learning it and I like to think that I took it in stride. I met with my editor and job shadowed him.

Doing informative articles and making deadline can help increase the odds that you’ll get rewarded for your work.

The rewards came to me twice. I spoke up about wanting to do an article related to the arts to my editor, and he promptly gave me an assignment to write about a painter living in France who had just started her artist residency in San Clemente. I did extensive research, drawing from press releases and her artist bio, and went to Wikipedia to read up about her style for general purposes. Preparing for the interview was work and I did a lot of fact checking, but it helped the interview go smoothly. Putting it all together was intense. I wanted readers to understand her artistic process and go out and see her work for themselves. The resulting article was entirely worth it.

My second article was more demanding. I was covering the opening of a female arts collective gallery in Laguna Beach and the goal was to go more in-depth and really dig into the art these women were doing and why they were doing it. This required a ton of research too, and the night of the event tested my limits as a reporter. It was crowded and noisy in the gallery, and I worried about my recording device failing me and flipping through my notes like a newbie. I’ve learned to let those kinds of things go and to stay positive and focused on the job. Another thing I learned was how to take flattering photos of people despite tricky circumstances like lighting, trying not to look like I was stalking them and finding a suitable background. A final thing I learned was that even if research you do for an article affects you personally, you have to be diligent and write anyway. I spent a few days thinking and writing about them, and I realize now that by having that time to work I put a lot of myself in that article. It was the longest piece I’ve ever published and it appeared across three Patch websites.

Someday I hope to return to San Clemente Patch. My articles are up in the ‘Clips’ section of my Blog.

Take a look at some of the photos I took for my piece about Splendor Device here. You’ll be able to read the whole article, too.

Photo Credit

Lofty Ambitions? Let’s Avoid That.

“The question used to be “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and now it’s “what are you going to be when you graduate?” The future was always far away, and now it’s at our feet. And that is so, so scary. But empowering”–Sarah Gray Isenberg

believeMy friend, Sarah, posted this last night on Facebook, and I couldn’t help but think about it. Check out her Blog here, she’s an excellent writer and is a hard worker. She inspires me to follow her example and to stay determined even when the bleak moments come in.

Building on this quote, I want to say that I have my own insecurities when it comes to planning “post college” life. Really, where am I going to be in just about 2.5 short years? Am I going to have regrets about what I chose to do for a living? Will I even have a job lined up right after graduation?

Romanticizing the future is all too easy. At the same time, it’s also dangerous. What we think we will do and what we actually end up doing are usually two very different things. It’s time to think realistically.

There are a few things that I know for certain, that I think shine in my favor. 1) I have a high school diploma. 2) I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree. I will get my diploma if it kills me. UC Irvine might be putting a dent in my bank account, but I don’t plan on quitting. 3) I know that there is more than holding the diploma in my eager hands someday, it’s about how I apply the skills I learned in college to other sectors. 4) Though I haven’t had to start paying my “own bills” (a.k.a pay for things with my own money), I am developing a responsible attitude about money. It’s simple–I want to stay within my means and save money throughout my life.

In this economy, it is imperative for me to make wise choices regarding my education and lifestyle. Graduation is not far off, and that gets me thinking about careers. In preparation for becoming a journalist, I have interned at a metro newspaper and am now interning for San Clemente Patch. I am also going to start writing for UCI’s New University next quarter. I assume that I’ll be doing more work as an intern and then maybe find writing jobs on Craigslist while still writing for NewU. I still see potential to land writing jobs without having to live with pain of doing something that I really hate. I also see most writing jobs being tied closely to the Internet. But I also am preparing to apply for jobs outside the writing category, jobs that maybe aren’t glamorous or what I always thought I’d be doing. No matter where I end up, I will not let my pride get too far ahead of me. A job is a job. I might not stay with that one particular job, but it doesn’t mean I need to complain about what I don’t have.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Get Out That Pen and Start Taking Notes

*This post comes from the Reporting is Hell Blog on Tumblr, for my reporting class taught by Amy Depaul. Click here

Reporting is something I’d love to do for a living—I’m drawn to it because I enjoy talking with people and writing down facts about things that have happened or things people have said. I’m a firm believer that news will never die and that people should be aware of what goes on around them. I have respect for writers who not only get the facts right, but can grab my interest and deliver a quality article. I am the kind of person who will sit at the breakfast table with my newspaper or magazine and just read the morning away.

I walked into class with a little experience under my belt on how to report for a local newspaper, as I was an intern for a few weeks over the summer back at home. As an intern, I conducted many “man on the street” interviews and wrote breaking news, features and profiles. I felt like my writing at the end of the summer had tightened up and grown stronger but that I was still a little fish in a big pond. Even though I was a little nervous before starting LJ 21, my first LJ class, I felt ready to do some serious work.

Reporting on the beat takes persistence. For me, the crime story was a classic lesson in reporting. First, my hunt for an interesting case to write about proved to be mildly annoying at the beginning and then frustrating because I couldn’t seem to find anything for a few days. I started to grow desperate, so I spent a lot of time looking at several cities in Orange County, like Huntington Beach, Newport and more, clicking on link after link until I wanted to tear my hair out. I finally stumbled upon a hit and run case, but was the police refused to answer my questions. Second, what I realized too late was that I needed to push the officers for the information I wanted by stating my purpose and refusing to back down. I settled for writing about vehicle burglaries in Newport Beach instead, which wasn’t quite as interesting, but I later very much regretted it because I limited myself to second best by not being more adamant.

Articles don’t write themselves, it’s up to the writer to do the legwork. Some people think writing “just a news story” is easy. Right? Wrong. I went to the Great Park Pumpkin Harvest in Irvine and really wanted to capture the mood of the place. I noted the variety of booths, things that were popular, statistics and the weather. I talked with several people and asked them simple questions, like, “Why are you out at the pumpkin patch today?” I ran around for about an hour learning more about the place by just watching. Covering this event seemed to have no limits, because I was able to talk to people running it and people enjoying it, and since it was by no means controversial, people wanted to talk to me. The hardest part was really capturing the mood, which I spent a few days trying to figure out how to organize from the mass of information I had on hand. After several attempts, I ended up liking the lead and how it helped make the piece so much better.

Writing is revision. The experience Q&A was the one assignment I misjudged. I thought it would simple interviewing my roommate about her birth dad coming into her life after 19 years, but it was not at all. I took awhile thinking up the perfect questions for her, and I thought the interview went fine until I got my grade back. I was disappointed because I had missed a key takeaway from the assignment—to put the experience in chronological order. I decided to redo the assignment keeping this in mind. As I came up with questions for the new interview, I found that they were better because they had focus, rather than being general and sometimes abstract, which might have been hit and miss for my particular subject. The interview went even more smoothly than the first one, and I was able to get her to elaborate on details while sticking with a timeline. I listened more carefully to her responses so that I could ask follow up questions and help her stay on track. I think it worked.

Stay out of the comfort zone. Interviewing a professor was definitely a highlight of the class for me. It was a challenging experience overall. I researched Amy Bauer, a music theory professor at UCI, for about an hour and a half. I made sure I knew what books and articles she had published and what they were about. I wrote out specific questions about the abstract of her main book, and asked how a person would go about analyzing music—I double checked the questions to make sure they didn’t sound stupid. This research was thorough, but I felt out of my comfort zone because I didn’t want to insult her by not understanding something and I didn’t know how forthcoming she would be. The interview was successful, as she answered my questions (albeit she sounded too prepared on the first one), demonstrated chords on the piano and helped spell out complicated names for me on the spot. The most difficult part of this assignment for me was to decide to include her two-page response to my first question—I realized that I had to keep it in even though it was long because the history she talked about sets the scene for the composer she researches and shows how he influences history as well.

Reporting is oftentimes very fun, and writing about subjects you are interested in always helps. The meetup profile was another class highlight. I chose to write about a group called Get Walking/Keep Walking from Irvine because I read that these full-time workers would meet at scenic places on Saturdays and walk a few miles together. It sounded like good exercise and something I could participate in. I am an avid hiker, and the group actually ended up hiking starting at Turtle Rock Community Park instead of walking. I predicted that I would be doing most of my note taking on the hike, and I was right. I carried my notebook and pen for about two and a half hours and asked people all of the questions I had come with (my writing looked pretty sloppy). I spent most of my time walking and talking with Alex, the assistant organizer, and found that his outlook on life was very positive and that being a part of this meetup group gave him the confidence to be a hiking leader to his grandchildren. I enjoyed writing the piece because I had such a memorable time with the group!

Having taken this class, I feel like I am ready to continue on with the major. I want to intern for Patch.com next quarter and I also want to write for the NewU sometime. I don’t want to miss out on job opportunities after I graduate, and I think that getting lots of clips is a good place to start.