Through a series of unexpected events, I found myself at CPAC with seven other journalism students from WJC… with no pass or registration. We were given a spur-of-the-moment opportunity to get a media pass on-site through providing proof that we wrote for the various publications we are interning at. When we arrived at the media registration table, we were told that we didn’t qualify because we were only interns. We tried repeatedly to get in (because journalists don’t back down after the first “no”), but apparently, due to the “shortage” of press passes they had, they were only giving the passes out to “senior journalists” from places like CNN or MSNBC.
I’m trying to prevent this from sounding like a rant, but I left that registration table a bit discouraged and insulted. Granted, we just showed up the day of the event and yes, we are all still students working towards becoming journalists, but I think they could have said something more along the lines of, “It’s too late-notice.” Instead, they made sure we knew how unqualified we were as interns and suggested we purchase the student pass, write something for fun, and then maybe come back in a year. All that to say, as someone trying to work hard to determine whether or not I have what it takes to be a journalist, being written off as not good enough because I’m just an intern wasn’t the most encouraging thing to hear, and that set the tone for the rest of the day.
I ended up staying around the event for a little while longer because, even though I couldn’t necessarily get in, there were so many people walking around; it could still be a good networking opportunity, right?… Wrong. I left that day with zero business cards, and the reason why is my fault.
Being surrounded by a lot of well-qualified people at an event that I’ve never been to before with so much going on everywhere was overwhelming to say the least. That in and of itself is enough to make one feel unqualified, and that’s without having staffers remind you you’re not experienced enough. Feeling out of my element, yet hopeful, I pushed myself to stay there longer just in case something happened that could change the direction things were headed in and launch my career in journalism. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but I knew this was a great opportunity and I wanted to make sure I got everything out of it as I possibly could, and I did. Just, not in the way that I expected.
I was turned away. I didn’t get to network or take selfies with leading conservative politicians. BUT, I’m glad I went to CPAC today. This whole experience revealed the areas I need to work on as a journalist; most of it revolving around a need for confidence and an ability to dive into an event or situation whether I feel well equipped and prepared or not. CPAC knocked me off my high horse, reminded me that I’m just a lowly intern, but most importantly showed me where I can grow as an aspiring journalist.