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.

Finding a Focus

If there is a point in the life of a writer’s Blog where things have lost their allure, I’ve found it. I should call it the “TURNING THE TIDE Blues”, and it sounds accurate enough. Today I sat down at my computer and clicked on my Blog, hoping to feel inspired…but all I saw were the flaws. What were these flaws, you may ask?

1) The design. I DO love this theme, and once I figured out that it was not the theme that needed changing but the colors and the header, I felt better. After logging on for five months and seeing the same colors, it got boring.

2) The content. I notice that some of my posts get more hits than others, and the photo essays I’ve posted usually interest people. But the last few posts haven’t gotten much traffic, and one of my goals for this year is to have an increase in comments and follows. It’s hard to do when there’s a small audience, and for the first year I Blogged on WordPress my best was two or three followers a post. I admit; it does feel good to have others stop by and “like” my posts! It’s the ego thing, and it helps encourage me to post more often.

What is my Blog about? Travel, student life, impressions I make, things I feel strongly about and writing. That’s succinct enough.

Going on about content, the problems I see are that posts are seemingly random. I’ll have photos in one, I’ll do a few Daily Prompts and then I’ll write a memoir. It’s not very fixed. Perhaps I should make a change? I think I should write posts based on a loose schedule. Three times a week, at most. More is too much.

For example: Quotes Monday, Tuesday: Living in Ireland, The Sunday Special (anything goes–a video, a photo essay, reflection, etc). You get the idea. I hope that if I Blog more regularly and focus on writing a short post or incorporating video that I’ll enjoy it more. With lack of a structure on TURNING THE TIDE, it is almost like I run away from the connections I’ve been trying to make here. I want people to remember that on Tuesdays I write about my study abroad experience, that there is a method to my Blogging. Another change I wish to make is to start the ‘Zero to Hero Blog Challenge‘. This is the first long-time challenge I’ve set out to accomplish on WordPress. Today is Day 1.

I’m open to your ideas for this Blog as well. Please participate in the poll below; it’ll help me solidify my plans for a better 2014! As always, thanks for reading.

–Jennifer

 

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