I’m not gonna lie – college isn’t easy. I am a journalism student and also the editor-in-chief of WSU’s student newspaper, The Winonan, and as with any college major, there will be times when you think you have your future figured out and you’re on the right track.
Then there are times where you wonder why you even chose this major and how you’re going to make a living.
This past weekend, three Winonan staff members and I attended the ACP/CMA Summer Workshop in Minneapolis, which included 220 students from 78 schools and 36 states. The conference consisted of different workshops and I attended the Future of Digital Journalism track.
I not only gained new ideas for our paper at the workshop, but I also took away a handful of tips to apply to my college career. These tips and life lessons are definitely applicable to any student in college, whether your major is journalism, math, psychology or nursing – whatever your future career, there’s no doubt you will endure roadblocks, struggles and doubts.
Here are 7 things to keep in mind and follow while in college and beyond:
1) Embrace constraints and work with what you have
In our workshop we discussed how newspapers are often limited and constrained by budgets and the ever-changing industry. But despite these challenges, you need to work with what you have and make the most of your resources and abilities.
The same goes for living in college – you may not always have everything you want, like a photographic memory, air conditioning in your place or a strong WiFi connection, but it’s important to embrace these restrictions and make the most out of your situation.
You may need to make adjustments in life, but in the end everything works out and you need to be resourceful.
2) Work hard to get where you want to be
In the journalism field, more often than not you’re going to have to work your way up from the bottom.
After college you’ll probably start out working the smaller jobs such as reporting for a small-town newspaper or being part of a team that works on social media – whatever direction you want to take your mass communication degree, you will still have to work hard for where you want to end up career-wise.
In any situation in life or in a career, you need to have a goal and work towards it. Nothing comes easy, and having career goals will keep you grounded, motivated and focused.
3) Be careful what you post
This is so crucial while you’re in college. During the conference, one of the advisors from a Texas college newspaper began telling my staff members and I about a controversial Snapchat video of a fraternity one of the Texas reporters saw, and how the paper was probably going to use that video to support a a follow-up article.
This is the perfect example of how students need to be mindful of what they’re posting on social media in college.
I know this has been preached to you before, but it is true that you don’t know who is really looking at your posts, and these viewers may include future employers or current professors and bosses. Just be aware!
4) Don’t box yourself in
As mentioned above, when it comes to pursuing a career in journalism, it’s important to remember that you may not be doing exactly what you dreamed you’d be doing right away.
If your interests lie with writing, you may have to work with video at some point. If you’re into videography, you may have to work with photos. It’s important not to be narrow minded heading into a journalism career, or any career.
This goes for the college experience as well. Be diverse, be open to new ideas and push your limits. You’ll get farther in life if you’re open and can adapt.
5) Never stop learning
The ACP/CMA Workshop is a perfect example of this! Even though it’s summer break and The Winonan doesn’t resume printing until September, our staff continues to learn and better our publication by attending this conference yearly.
In college, make the effort to teach yourself a few things along the way that will benefit you in the future. Remember, learning does not cease after you graduate.
You’ll constantly be learning new things in your career and teaching yourself along the way can only help you get to where you want to be.
6) Don’t be afraid of change
In the ever-changing journalism industry, communication tools and media platforms will never stay the same for too long.
That means you can’t be afraid of change as a journalist. This follows the two preceding points; you need to be open to this change and learn how to adapt. The same goes for in life.
In college, you’re going to be going through tons of changes with friends, family and who you are as a person. You’ll discover new things about yourself and deal with situations you’ve never come across before. College changes you, and you shouldn’t be afraid of this change.
Change is a good thing, and it can lead you to amazing experiences and relationships.
7) Make memories
As a journalist, you want to make people remember what you write, produce, photograph, etc. It’s about telling stories to last a lifetime, and that’s what college is all about as well.
Make mistakes and bold decisions and you’ll create and share memories with people you can tell for years after you graduate.
So do something different and try something new – write your own story and carry it with you forever.