Tag Archives: future

A Journalist’s Thankful List (2016)

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Bad news: my annual “thanksgiving post” is getting later and later–most definitely a journalism fail on my part (better late than never?). Good news: this is officially my first thankful list as a journalist… not a journalism student.

As usual, my lists seem to have a theme. In 2013, it was people; 2014 was about challenges; 2015 had an “un-journalistic” theme; and finally, this year, it’s all about NEW things.

New York

This summer, I moved to New York. If you told me that was going to happen, I would have never believed you. One, because I have only visited the city once and spent less than 24 (very stressful) hours wandering around Manhattan. And, two, because New York was on my “never going to move there” list. The hustle and bustle of New York City and my personality are polar opposites. Yet, in a series of events too long to write out here, I started to see New York as the perfect setting to my “journey to journalism.” I found an apartment and transferred to a Starbucks in the Bronx all in about a month’s time; and, before I knew it, I was struggling up the five (yes, FIVE) flights of stairs with three suitcases to move into my new home. While I can’t say I’ve always wanted to live here, I know that many people who do, never get the opportunity to do so and in light of that, I don’t want to take it for granted. I’m thankful that God opened up doors, and I can confidently say, I don’t regret this move one bit.

New Perspective

As much as I hate fitting stereotypes, I realized I moved here with the whole, “New York or bust” mentality, daydreaming of the many opportunities that awaited me in the Big Apple. I spent hours looking up entry level jobs and internships, writing countless cover letters all the while working as a barista at the Starbucks near Yankee Stadium. A couple of months into this routine, I got really discouraged. I wasn’t hearing back and the last thing I wanted to do at this point was write another cover letter. In the midst of this dry season though, I started to develop a new perspective.

When I arrived here, I thought it wouldn’t be too long before I found something and transitioned out of working at Starbucks. I grew frustrated when things weren’t going according to plan and just dreamed about the day when I could have that “nice job in the city.” But then, I grew to love the neighborhood I live in. I felt that, without saying a word, I could relate to the others commuting to work with that exhausted yet determined look on their faces (a look many may interpret to be that “New York scowl”). There was something about the whole experience that felt raw and real. Downtown New York is nice and definitely has a lot to see and learn from, but man, Uptown and the Bronx was home to me. I am definitely not doing this explanation justice, but through things not going my way, my goals, priorities, and perspectives shifted, and for that, I am thankful.

New Job

So, remember how I was saying I didn’t hear back from any job applications for what felt like a really long time? Well, at the end of summer, one of the places I had a phone interview with when I just moved to New York reached out to me to see if I was still interested in the position. At this point, I kind of took a break from the application madness because, honestly, with that perspective change, I had grown quite comfortable with my flexible Starbucks schedule and really loved the people I worked with. I figured, maybe it’s a good time to narrow my job search process and really think about what I wanted to do next.

Long story short, I ended up going in for that interview, and another one after that and now, I can officially say that I am a reporter. More specifically, a reporter for a trade publication on Wall Street that covers the defined contributions (401k) industry. Just like I never thought I would call New York “home,” I didn’t quite think that my first job would be as a financial reporter. However, I’m learning that life, especially as an aspiring journalist, takes these unpredictable twists and turns. These detours, as surprising or unexpected as they may be, can turn out to be some of life’s greatest blessings.


Lessons Learned from a Web of Necklaces

A couple nights ago, I finally decided to tackle the daunting task of untangling this:

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This, my friends, is the result of neglected necklaces.

As I was sitting and staring at the web of necklaces, I realized that it perfectly summed up my life. (Disclaimer: I plan on milking this analogy for all it’s worth, so if cheesy analogies aren’t for you, you’ve been warned). As a senior in college, thinking about my future gets my brain all jumbled up. There are so many options out there, I don’t know where to start. Honestly, it was/is overwhelming, which, I guess, is normal for a twenty-something. But you see that round necklace with small words scribbled across it? That represents journalism to me.

Amidst the chaos that is my life, there is one thing that continues to be clear to me – I want to be a journalist. You might be thinking, “Well, duh Chels, this whole blog is about how you want to become a journalist.” However, throughout college, life has shaped my desires, dreams and aspirations significantly. Life has a way of doing that, I suppose. Despite all that has changed though, journalism continues to be that one clear object in my tangled web.

Going back to the necklaces, when I started untangling it, I truly thought it was a lost cause. I didn’t know where to start, but eventually, I got one imprisoned necklace free which gave me the patience to continue working at it until, one-by-one, every necklace was free.

I know what I want to be “when I grow up,” but getting there is another story. Looking at the unknown future ahead of me, I have no idea where to start, but the important thing is that I do actually start. If I just stared at that knot of necklaces, there is no way they would’ve gotten untangled by themselves. It took me working at one knot at a time, even when I didn’t know if what I was attempting to achieve was even possible. My career goals and aspirations might seems like a long shot at times, but perhaps, by working and focusing on one thing at a time, I will be able to sort through this web I call my “journey to journalism.”


Reflections on WJC: AWARE

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At the beginning of this semester, I blogged about how I expected to “get engaged” through my time in the Washington Journalism Center. Now, a week after my semester in D.C. has ended, I have come to the conclusion that, yes, I did have many opportunities to engage with the neighborhoods and community surrounding me, but more than that, I’m leaving this semester: AWARE.

Aware of the Issues 

So, first let me start out with a confession (I tend to have a lot of those on this blog): As a journalism student, I did not keep up with current events and news nearly as much as I should have. Thankfully, my professor for the semester, and the founder of WJC, drove in the importance of reading. Read my internship’s publication, read the publications relevant to D.C. and overall read to stay informed. Going into this semester, I wondered how journalists develop the content and background behind each story. The simple answer–read.

As I started subscribing to e-newsletters and read the main stories of each day, I started to feel more connected to what was going on both nationally and internationally. It might be the journalism nerd in me, but there is a thrill that comes with being able to connect news stories and articles with every day life. All of a sudden, I would be at an event and the speaker would talk about something that I had just read about, and because of that I felt both engaged and aware with what I was observing and learning this semester.

Aware of the State of the Media

Both inside and outside the classroom, I learned about how much the media is evolving, innovating and thriving. Prior to this semester, I knew the industry had its share of challenges, but I didn’t really understand the dynamics of it all. However, through classes on topics such as “the business model crisis of the media” and the opportunity to attend the American Press Institute and Poynter’s Digital Storytelling Summit, I came to understand more about the impact the digital age is having on journalism. A few months ago, I would’ve never associated terms like startups and big data with journalism, but now, I can’t think of one without thinking about the other.

Aware of Big Data

Speaking of big data, startups and the digital age, thanks to my internship at 1776, a D.C. based startup incubator, I became more aware of the influence and importance big data and analytics have not only in media, but in all industries. Have you ever had someone tell you about something you’ve never heard of before and then after they tell you about it, you see it everywhere? Well, that’s what my internship did for me. I didn’t know what a startup incubator was before I started my internship, but by the end of the semester, I felt immersed in the startup, tech world. I also became aware of how broad of a reach tech and data has on everything. Every news article I read had some sort of tie back to technological developments, social media challenges, privacy concerns, etc. The fact that technology has become a significant part of our lives and culture was not a new concept to me, but being at 1776 helped me really understand and experience that first hand.

Aware of How Much I Have to Learn

Speaking of ignorance, I often describe this semester as humbling. After being editor-in-chief at my previous college’s newspaper and attending a couple journalism conferences, I felt like I had a fairly good grasp of journalism. I knew I wasn’t ready to go straight into the field and learning is a lifelong process, but I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Through my experiences this semester, getting edits and grades back from my advisers, I was quickly knocked off of my high horse. I’ll admit, that was discouraging at first, but I’m thankful for it because it gave me areas to focus on and grow in. I do not want to find out what would’ve happened if I went on in ignorant bliss only to have a brutal reality check once I hit the workforce.

Looking back on my semester, I am so grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that I had. I expected to learn a lot from this semester, but I did not expect the types of lessons I would learn. There are so many issues, topics and lessons that I could talk about, but I’m still processing all of this and also, I want to spare you from reading a really long blog post. Most of my semester though can be summed up into the word: aware. This may sound cliche, but after my WJC semester, I will never see the world the same way again. It has opened my eyes and changed my perspective in ways that I could’ve never expected or imagined.


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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The Hidden Chapter

13808443545_80d8a868b2_zAs I sit here devouring a pint of chocolate peanut butter cup gelato (Talenti‘s to be exact) I am at a loss for words (I know, that’s ironic) when I think about what just happened in the last two days. I created this blog to document my “journey to journalism.” That said, this post not only falls under the criteria of “stuff I need to blog about” but it is centered around what is arguably the biggest and most extreme decision I have made since coming to college.

You see, Monday was the first day of my junior year at HBU. After a long, tough summer as a camp counselor, disconnected from technology (which is why I haven’t posted in what seems like forever) I was extremely excited to be back. I bought my textbooks, unpacked my stuff (that took a while), and got ready to continue with all the organizations that I was involved in last semester. Little did I know that tomorrow, (Friday) I would no longer be a student at HBU and would begin the process to transfer as a full-time, online student at Regent University (as a government major). 

If you told me on Monday that I would be back at home in Hawaii next week, I would think you were crazy. I love HBU and even though I miss my family, I have such a great support system here. Plus, I was going to see my family during Christmas break. Why then would I make such a drastic decision to leave?

I don’t know if I ever posted about this, but my “college plan” included doing a study abroad Washington Journalism Center semester in D.C. and ideally, graduating early. This was something that I had been thinking about since before I came to college, and as my time here unfolded, it looked like I would be able to finish up my journalism classes through that program in D.C., come back to Houston, take summer classes, and graduate as a “baby senior” next August. Then I met with the dean of my department and he informed me that if I were to do the study abroad semester, I would have to pay my school’s tuition along with the full tuition of the program ($15,000 not including food and transportation). In other words, I would be paying two tuitions for one semester.

Obviously, that left me with a huge financial problem, but that wasn’t the only issue. Most of my journalism classes were supposed to be covered by the credits I would earn in D.C. so my plan to graduate early also went out the door. On top of that, my school’s School of Fine Arts, and more specifically the journalism program, is going through a transitional stage. I’m not going to try to explain it all, but simply put, there isn’t really a program for those who want to go into reporting/news media. When I took all of that into consideration, I felt, in terms of my education, I had hit a roadblock.

So, here I am. Realizing that the older you get, the more frequent and extreme unexpected situations and changes become. In a sense, I’m learning to get used to it and make the most of it, but here’s to hoping that I won’t have to make a decision like this again in the near future. Apparently, this week marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life, except I did not see this one coming. 


The Scary Side of Journalism

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Tonight, I went to a haunted house that the RA’s at my university put together. Now, don’t judge me, but that was kind of my first time going to a haunted house. I wasn’t expecting it to be that scary, but, long story short, I couldn’t stop screaming! It wasn’t very long, but by the end, with scare after scare popping up one after the other, I was getting exhausted. When I saw the normal staircase, lit up and free of surprises, words cannot express the amount of relief I felt.

So, what does my first “haunted house experience” have to do with journalism? Well, I’m glad you asked. There are times when the great big world of journalism coupled with the mystery and uncertainty of my future is even more terrifying than that haunted house.

At first, finding out about all the different roles journalists play excited me. There was so much for me to learn and experience. I felt like I was doing something “journalist-y” as I strived to keep my Twitter and blog updated. But then, as my class projects and essay deadlines started to approach, I felt overwhelmed. Like running through that haunted house, I started to wonder, will I ever get a break to catch my breath? Is this something that I can do for a living? I start to panic, wondering how much more of this craziness I could handle, but then I saw the light (not like I was dying but the “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of light). That same feeling of relief came over me as I took a deep breath, realized I’m still alive, and prepared to enter into yet another “haunted house.”

Yeah, the future can be spooky and suspenseful, and yeah, life can get so extremely tiring to the point where you don’t know how much more you can take, but then you live to see another day. You pass those deadlines and you walk out of it relieved and renewed for whatever awaits you around the corner.