Becoming an Adult in a Social Media Driven Age

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courtesy of Dean Meyers via Creative Commons

Today we had a speaker in class who focused on the importance of having a LinkedIn account and networking through social media. What she had to share was really helpful especially to someone like me who is starting to transition out of school and into the “real world.” As she was talking about the importance of having a professional profile across all social media platforms though, there was one question that came to mind: When it comes to social media, do I have to sacrifice my personality for professionalism?

As I talked about this topic with one of my suitemates, I realized that millennials are the first to truly have to make this transition from college to career in a social media driven age. Social media isn’t a new concept to my generation, but the social media that we grew up with was just that–social. It was important to be wise with the photos and statuses we posted; however, for me at least, social media didn’t have anything to do with whether or not I would be hired for a position. That is, until I got to college.

When I realized just how important social media is to my future career and occupational goals (especially in the world of journalism), I created my Twitter account with the sole purpose of using it for professional posts.

Confession: There would be times when I took so long arguing with myself about whether or not I should actually post a tweet I constructed that by the time I came to a decision, it was no longer relevant and I ended up not sending it.

However, my Facebook and Instagram profile were a completely different story. I kept both of those accounts private so that for the most part, the people who would see these posts know me and understand where I’m coming from when I post something I think is funny or “rant” about an experience I’ve had. Please don’t get me wrong, I do not advise being careless with posting on social media just because the account is “private,” but I felt like I could post things that were more personalized to who I am, how  think, and what I like. For example, on Facebook, you might find a lot of posts related to how much I love Texas. If you didn’t really know me, you’d think it completely weird and disturbing especially given the fact that I’m from Hawaii and don’t even live in that state. Granted, even people who know me well, might still think I have an unhealthy obsession with Texas, but at least they have some context for those posts and, well, it’s TEXAS! I also love Jimmy Needham, Jimmy Fallon, and puns. None of those facts about me will get me hired, in fact, some of that might actually be a disincentive to hire me, but the thing is–that’s part of who I am.

Now that I basically made all these personal facts open to the public, my whole concern about whether I should keep these things private may be irrelevant. However, it is still a balance I would like to know how to strike. Private or not, I want to be very cautious about what I post and avoid posting something that would put my job, or character, in jeopardy, but I would like to be “me” sometimes. I don’t always want to hide behind a professional front that says”’ “I have it all together and I love everything I am doing right now.” Especially with my close friends spread out around the country and possibly soon around the world, I want to be able to keep a real, unedited part of me on social media.

One point though that I thought was interesting and a bit convicting is that sometimes, I forget that those things can be expressed in person. I was talking to a fellow intern about this and asked her when I’m supposed to express my opinions or rants. She simply replied, “in-person.” Talk about a stereotypical millennial moment. So, yes, there is a time and outlet for everything. Whether you’re trying to demonstrate your freedom of expression or not, there are certain things that just shouldn’t go on social media… save it to discuss with your mom or something. However, I can honestly say that I don’t like the idea of hiding behind a professional front on social media.

What do you think? Am I reading into this too much? How do YOU balance professionalism and personality on social media?

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Reflections from CPAC (Can’t Provide Any Credentials)

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 11.32.54 PMThrough 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.

Another plus side... the venue was gorgeous.

Another plus side… the venue was gorgeous.


The Real Cost of News

Over a year ago, I blogged about my fear of the unknown future coupled with the sometimes overwhelming, scary nature of journalism. Tonight’s event at the Newseum, (which also happened to be my first “official journalism event in D.C.”) brought that concept of the “scary side of journalism” to a whole other level.

At the beginning of the event, they played videos documenting the stories of journalists James Foley and Austin Tice. Both were correspondents in Syria who were kidnapped months apart from each other in 2012. Their families worked persistently to discover the whereabouts of these men. The search for Foley ended tragically when footage of his beheading was released on YouTube. Tice, on the other hand, is still missing.

His mom, Debra Tice, along with Foley’s mom, Diane Foley, shared what they learned about the press and government through their experience. Hearing from these two women was eye-opening and it definitely made me wonder what the government could do to improve the way they handle this issue, which is becoming increasingly common as more and more journalists are being threatened in various parts of the world.

Of all the issues and questions raised tonight, what really stuck with me was the passion that drove Foley and Tice to willingly put their lives on the line to capture the conflict in Syria. Both of them did not have to go. In fact, both their families, and even some of their colleagues, urged them not to go, but they wanted to communicate the harsh realities of what is going on in the other side of the world. To me, that is the heart of journalism. Journalists exist to provide a window into lives, places and events that most others wouldn’t normally have access to.

But then, how far is too far? This is essentially what Kathleen Carroll of the Associated Press brought up in a discussion after Diane Foley and Debra Tice shared their experiences. She asked if the story was worth the risk. While this is a question that I don’t think I could ever fully answer, from an aspiring journalist’s point of view, if the story increases awareness amongst the public and equips them with the information they need to take action, I think that yes, it is worth it. I would not advise irresponsibly putting oneself in dangerous situations in order to get a story, but if there is a passion and clear purpose, the kind that I saw in Foley and Tice, then it is definitely worth it. I mean look at the impact it is having today. We are still talking about their work and almost three years after they went missing, they inspired me in my endeavors to report “nothing but the truth.”

In her closing remarks on the panel, Carroll said that in light of this issue, the news audience (a.k.a. everyone) has a responsibility to care about and appreciate the work that these journalists are doing. I can definitely say that this event gave me a deeper appreciation for the news. The price of that article you read or the video footage you watched goes beyond just a few dollars at the convenience store or having to endure a 30 second ad. There are journalists out there like Foley and Tice who are risking their lives, and that’s the real cost of news.

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What I’m Looking Forward to this Spring

In my first two weeks of living in D.C., I have already developed a pretty good idea of what I plan to get out of my time here. To sum it all up, by the end of this semester, I expect to be engaged.

I know, that is an odd statement to find on this blog. What those who know me may find even more striking is the fact that I am 100% single. But, I’m not talking engagement like proposal, wedding dress shopping and cake tasting (although I do plan to eat my share of sweets here in D.C. 😉 ). What I mean by “I expect to be engaged” is I have a feeling that living and working in a city with such unique dynamics will teach me to go out of my comfort zone and learn to engage with the neighborhood and consequently the world around me.

Engage with the Community 

One aspect of the Washington Journalism Center that I did not expect, but am extremely grateful for, is the fact that since the day we have arrived here, our leaders have been encouraging us to get involved in the community around us. Whether that is through finding a local church to plug into or looking for opportunities to volunteer, they want us to not just be tourists in D.C. and not even to merely be young professionals here, but to explore and discover the rich culture and community that surrounds us. Believe it or not, D.C. is not all business and government. There are neighborhoods full of people with an unlimited amount of untold stories and pasts (and that excites the aspiring journalist in me).

Last semester, I took online classes from home and got a taste of life after college. In that time, I realized that there is at least one thing campus life does not prepare you for, and that is taking the initiative to get involved. To a certain extent, yes, you have to learn to go out and find organizations that you like and want to be a part of, but all your options are all crammed together in one location and every single organization vies for your attention. All you have to do is go to an “org fair” and sign up for whatever piques your interest. In the “real world,” the “campus organization fair” is a lot larger, and unless you learn to get out into your community and learn about what different businesses, churches and organizations have to offer, you will be stuck in the dreaded work, home, work, home cycle completely oblivious to all the community events and outreaches there are right in your neighborhood!

Engage with People 

This area for me is a work in process. When we got here, we were told to interact with the people we encounter just waiting at the bus stop or riding the metro because of the potential to learn so much from talking to different people. While part of me is excited to meet total strangers and be blown away by the stories they have to share, the other part of me (the part that has seen some harsh realities of human nature) is hesitant to just talk to everyone I meet. This challenge made me realize just how far I’ve retracted into my shell in the past year. The people here in D.C. are so kind and helpful, and it is so fun and easy to interact with everyone…when I’m in a group. However, when I’m traveling alone, I find it hard to find the fine line between being antisocial and being safe.

Clearly, I haven’t mastered this area of my semester of engagement, but this is just the beginning. While I am a little intimidated and scared, I am up to the challenge. I know that if I consistently apply this, it will stretch and grow me. Sorry Mom, but I’m going to talk to strangers.

Engage with my Future 

This is the last one and kind of self-explanatory so I’ll keep it short since this post is already much longer than I anticipated. Basically, besides knowing that I want to go into journalism, I have no idea what that might look like in my future. Being able to actually intern and be mentored by someone in the field is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m excited to see how this semester will shape and mold my goals and dreams giving a more specific direction for my “journey to journalism.” I may not be getting a ring this spring, but I do plan on being engaged on so many different levels.

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From WJMC to WJC

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

Staring out my window looking at the Capitol, I think back on all that has happened and can’t believe I’m actually here in Washington D.C. The last time I was in the nation’s capital marked the beginning of this blog and my “journey to journalism”…and what a journey it has been! Before the craziness that is living and studying in D.C. begins, I figured I would use this downtime to recap all the major events that led to this very moment.

WJMC

Like I said, this blog, and consequently this journey all started almost four years ago when I was invited to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). This program gathered high school seniors from around the nation who had one thing in common – we all wanted to pursue a career in the media. That week in D.C. gave me a glimpse of the world of journalism and provided me with amazing opportunities such as hearing from successful professionals in the field from the Today show’s Hoda Kotb to film critic Kevin McCarthy. Since it was more of an academic driven program, we had some assignments and one of them included blogging about our week in D.C. Thus, my “Nothing But the Truth” blog began.

I can’t really remember if this is exactly how it went down, but I’m pretty sure I was looking up more information about WJMC when I came across something called the Washington Journalism Center (WJC). They offered a semester-long journalism program where we could take classes and intern just blocks away from the Capitol. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but it was offered to juniors and seniors… in college. I was still in high school, so that got put on the back burner until a couple years later…

An Unexpected Guest

In my sophomore year, my journalism professor invited someone to speak to my Writing and Reporting I class. The special guest was Terry Mattingly who just happens to be the director of, yep, you guessed it, WJC. Okay, so the director of the program I was looking into two years ago comes to my classroom. That must be a sign, right? Well, at the time I honestly didn’t think so. You see, when Mattingly came to visit my class, I was in a love/hate relationship with journalism. I still wanted to pursue that major, but I was second guessing whether the hard-hitting, fast-paced, deadline news scene was right for me. No doubt, there were certain things that excited me about being a journalist, but there were also things that overwhelmed me, especially after I started realizing how much social media has changed the dynamics of journalism. I even started to consider ways I could use my degree in settings other than the newsroom. So, when we had the director of WJC visit our campus, I didn’t flood him with questions like I would usually do. I took the flyer and that was basically it. Little did I know, his visit watered a seed that grew into a determination to attend WJC no matter what the costs were… and boy, was there a cost.

The Big Move

After telling my professor about my intentions to apply for the journalism semester, I started what I thought would be a normal application process. At the beginning, everything was going well. I had started my application almost a year before it was due so I figured I had a lot of time to work out the little details along the way. However, summer of 2014 came and since I was working at a summer camp, I didn’t have much access to my computer. This put the WJC related communications between me and my school on hold. When I came back in the fall to get all the school forms signed and submitted, there was an unexpected financial issue that surfaced and, to make a long story short, there was no way I could afford going to WJC through my university. So, the first week of my junior year, I transferred to another college that had a more cooperative school policy, and moved from Texas back home to Hawaii where I took online classes for a semester. Four years and two schools later, here I (finally!) am, back where it all started. I have no idea what to expect of this semester, but after all those ups and downs in getting here, rest assured, I intend on making the best of it!


Lessons from Being Stuck in Traffic

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Estimation of what this past holiday season’s traffic will be like. Courtesy of Skift.com

The holiday season is wrapping up and with it (hopefully) the crazy traffic. There are many reasons why being stuck in traffic can be frustrating, but I think the biggest reason is because we are so focused on the destination. Traffic keeps us from getting where we need to go in the amount of time we want. However, if we take a step back, there is actually a lot to be learned  (and dare I say, enjoyed?) in traffic.

One day, I was on my way to work and happened to leave right when everyone else wanted to go to the mall. Sitting behind rows of cars, I turned on the radio and actually started enjoying the time in the car to just listen to music and slow down in the midst of the most hectic, fast-paced season of the year. I found myself admiring the scenery around me instead of worrying about whether or not I would make it to work on time. Then, it hit me. The past 5 months of my life were very much like a life version of a traffic jam. Going from a busy campus life schedule to taking three classes online at home was definitely a change of pace… and I hated it.

Just like we get frustrated with rush hour traffic, I was extremely frustrated with the detour my life took. Why? Because I was focused on the destination instead of the journey. After my five month traffic jam, I would be headed to Washington D.C. for a journalism semester, but in the mean time, I was stuck with a lot less to do than I had before. I didn’t like this little, uncertain plateau of waiting and planning. I wanted to experience, travel, do something exciting!

Thanks to being stuck in traffic on my way to work, I had time to reflect on this and realize that sometimes, life’s traffic jams are necessary. They can be painful and annoying, but they also give you time to slow down. Perhaps last semester was God’s way of getting my attention to get things in order before things started to pick up again.

The next time I hit traffic whether it be on the road or on my journey to journalism, I will choose to be thankful for the time to slow down and reflect on the finer things of life. Happy New Years!


Nothing But The… Bad News? (It’s all about perspective)

Do you know someone who doesn’t read the news anymore because it’s “depressing” or “always negative”? Perhaps those are some excuses you use to avoid keeping up with current events. If that is you, don’t worry, this post isn’t meant to call you out, but I do want to challenge our perspectives (yes, our, I’ll be the first to admit that I have had times where I have felt intimidated to approach all that is “the world of news”).

Anyway, what does perspective have to do with this? Well, if you will bear with me a little longer, I’m going to digress a bit further and then (hopefully) bring this back full circle to answer the big question of “Why is the news always bad?”

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As you may or may not know, I’m from Hawaii. If you’re not from Hawaii, you probably are thinking I live in paradise, and in many ways, you’d be right. Hawaii is beautiful, the weather is relatively nice (especially this time of the year), and it is my home. However, growing up here, as with growing up anywhere, hasn’t been easy. So, tied with my view of Hawaii is the valleys I’ve faced in life, the fact that I’m not on vacation somewhere else, and the high cost of living! And recently with transferring schools, being in Hawaii also means that I’m no longer enrolled at Houston Baptist University. That said, this isn’t meant to be a complete downer about Hawaii because ask any tourist who has paid their whole life’s savings to spend a week here and they will tell you how amazing Hawaii is and how they cannot wait to be back here. Now, there’s nothing different between my Hawaii and that tourist’s Hawaii, but there IS a big difference on the perspectives we have… see, I told you I’d bring this back around.

Perspective and News 

While there are a lot of unpleasant things that are going on in the world today, a lot of how we see the news depends on how we read the news. What is the perspective you have prior to even reading that first article? If you’re expecting a story about a tragic event or social injustice, you’ll definitely find it. BUT, if you’re expecting an inspiring story of someone who survived a tragic event or took action to right a social injustice, then you’ll find that too. Combining my Hawaii analogy and this lesson on perspectives might be a stretch, but sometimes, we need to see our news like a tourist sees Hawaii. I’m definitely in need of a perspective check, how about you?