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

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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.

The Magic Paddleboard

It’s time I got back into writing mode. To my followers reading this, thanks for sticking with me. To new readers, thanks for taking time to look at my Blog.

Last quarter I had the pleasure of interviewing Jerry Katz for my narrative writing class. Our final project required us to write a lengthy narrative (12-19 pages) and become storytellers. Over a period of several weeks I got to know Jerry, a man who lives life “actively.” He surfs, hang glides, rides bikes and gives tours at the LA Arboretum. He’s lived in Southern California all his life. While I was deciding on an appropriate angle for the story, he invited me out to one of his beginner stand up paddle boarding (sup) tours at OEX Sunset Beach. He helps the owner of the place run a Meetup group.

His friends pay $10 for board rental and then he teaches them for free.

On May 11 I went out for my first paddle boarding lesson. My friend Jazmin came too. Jerry wanted me to write about it in my piece, so the night before I prepared mentally for potential difficulties–I’d leave the reporter’s notebook and the camera behind. I hoped my short-term memory would carry me through. It was all in the details, details, details.

I felt so free out on the water. I sped ahead and was the leader of the group at one point. And I had plenty of time to think about how I was living. Clearly, I needed to try new things more often. Didn’t know I’d really like doing any particular sport, and here I was getting a “high” off of stand up paddling! We were paddle boarding in Huntington Harbor, so we weren’t out in open ocean water. The water was still, except for the Duffys and other boats passing through. Kayakers came in packs.

Jerry’s instructions were clear and I remembered most of what he said. I kept track of easy landmarks–a boat, a shoal marker, the Pacific Coast Highway bridge. The feel of the board was odd at first, but once I started paddling in smooth strokes I didn’t think so much about it.

Two hours later we made it back to the shore.

Was it really over?

For that day, yes.

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But I came back to see Jerry in July. Paddle boarding didn’t feel weird at all this time–I hopped on and enjoyed touring with about 20 other people, including my friends Linda and Diana.

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The realization that I had fallen in love with paddle boarding right from the start led me to learn how to cook, knit and crochet. I also like spending as much time as I can outdoors. I went on a short hike with my dad and braved the snow, wind and the rain. Now I bike ride for fun.

In my next post I am going to share my narrative piece about Jerry. I recently submitted the piece for an online literary magazine that features writers from my school. Longform writing is getting more popular these days, and WordPress is a great and easy place to post.

Jerry is just an awesome guy. He treats people well. I thank him for helping me work on my storytelling skills and opening my eyes to the wonderful world of paddle boarding.

Getting Wiser

They say never write for free. But I’m doing my stretching right now and sometimes you have to get your voice out there, be brave. The words you select and the words you leave out tell readers a lot about you–meaning manifests in surprising ways. Experimenting is necessary.

I really haven’t been myself for the longest time, it feels like…I haven’t been getting enough sleep at night, I’ve been having nightmares during the few hours of sleep I do get, I want the pain to release me from its tight grip. I don’t understand why I act the way I do sometimes.

The other day the exhausted me was more than a little disgusted at my piss-poor planning for that week. I tried to do all nighters, I tried to keep my commitments. I failed my own expectations and it hurt my pride. I had so many assignments due that day, too many people to meet up with. I had a “what the hell are you doing with your life” talk with myself while I waited for my next class. Did I know? I had an inkling. In the end, everything miraculously worked out after a couple of prayers and my brilliant plan to chain myself to a desk at the library so I could write a rough draft essay before it was due that night.

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I’ve learned a lot these past couple weeks. I realize more than ever that friends will come and go. Friendship is something you can’t force on anyone. They have to put in the same amount of effort that you do or it is meaningless. Memories seem to come out, they scream at you. At the same time, you smile at hilarious moments and remember the insights with clarity. And sure, it hurts, especially when you lose a friend and say to yourself that it’s time to walk away! What do you do when someone stops caring? You might just blow them off.

I made a new friend this week. She showed me kindness without expecting anything in return. She showed up unannounced. It’s so easy being around her and I see her glowing around the people she cares about. An opportunity to grow closer is here at my feet. It’s arrived when I need it most and I think I want to take it.

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Part of my positive outlook on life comes from my family (the Jopsons). I see again and again that I have wonderful examples of people who put others first, resolve problems with diplomacy and not through harsh words, the integrity they possess to get something done. Money is not the most important thing to them. They are sometimes too humble. The values they place first in life–keeping in touch and strengthening relationships inside and outside the family, education through schooling and showing kindness to people for the sake of kindness alone are what they’re about.

I am Jennifer Tennant Jopson. I am more assertive, I am learning to tell people what I need without feeling guilty. I can say no. I am free. To do what I want to–I shape my life based on my passions and the little things, too. I knit, I crochet. I do amateur photography when I remember to bring my camera along and I like working out because it makes me feel good. On Saturdays I enjoy reading Rolling Stone in bed. I take the time to work on my talents, making up for the years I thought no one cared anyway and would it matter much at all. I will go to the beach this summer and stand up paddle board with a friend of mine. I sing for myself and I sing to God. This is what I do.

The Joshua Tree

Image“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. “You’d be destroying what makes it special,” she said. “It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty.”

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are a symbol of hope for me. Last year was my first trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Nothing could have prepared me for such beauty and serenity there. You can see the trees standing in clumps and twisting up to the sky for miles in every direction. What made my first experience even better was that we arrived at night, when the stars created a lovely backdrop for the silhouette of the trees. I wanted to touch a Joshua tree with my hand, but one of the guys on the trip tried to and realized that they are very, very spiky trees, probably the equivalent of touching a cactus. I relate hope with the trees because although they thrive mostly in the Mojave Desert, which is not a large part of the world, if they can brave the harsh desert they have the ability to live for up to hundreds of years with other specimens. [Source] I liken that to the existence of humankind. Each of us is one person out there in a world of 7 billion + people. We each face a beginning, life as children, growing up, old age and face an ending as a human being when we die. From a biological standpoint, the cycle of life is simple and beautiful. However, we make it more complicated with things like schedules, relationships, jobs and stress. Where do we find hope in that mess? We find hope in seeing the examples of others who have come before us and in our successes and failures. No one is exempt from a difficulty of some sort. It’s the people who can look within themselves and find the things they are passionate about, and people who help others achieve their passions that survive. How do you define hope?