The summer after I graduated from college, I interned as a reporter for a paper in a small town about 45 minutes west of my hometown.
It was my third internship, but my first paid one, and although the people were great, and I learned from the experience, there were several times when I found myself wondering…is this all there is?
It was the same feeling I had at my previous internships, and occasionally at the student newspaper I worked at in college. I majored in journalism, with an emphasis in news and information, yet I just couldn’t see myself being a reporter for long. I looked at it as the beginning of my career as a writer, but not something I wanted to do forever.
This confused me. For as long as I can remember, words have been my passion. When I expressed this desire to my parents, to teachers and other adults along the way, I was constantly steered toward journalism. It seemed like the only logical way to go when it came time to choose a major in college. Yet, somehow for some reason, reporting didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would.
However, while studying journalism in college, and while working at newspapers, I did find there were parts of reporting I loved.
For one, you get to write everyday. Sometimes it’s good stuff. Sometimes it’s really not. You also get to talk to people everyday, to a wide variety of people, and you get to hear their stories, their opinions, and what they have to say. No two days on the job are the same. You are constantly learning something new. You get to research and examine issues, and bring attention to topics of importance. It can be very noble work, and it matters. Journalism is at the core of democracy. I truly believe that the work of reporters — even what may seem trivial— is extremely valuable, and every single reporter should take pride in what he/she does everyday.
Despite all that, and how much I have come to respect journalism as an institution, I had to ask myself what my ultimate career goals were, and how journalism would help get me there. I’m still figuring that out, but my recent experiences have made it a bit more clear.