By Camille Douglas
I have always felt the need to go on adventures. I had the travel bug in me and ever since coming to MSU two years ago, studying abroad has been on the top of my to-do list before graduation. Though traveling and exploring unknown territories was a large part of why I chose to study abroad, the main reason I came along on this journey was to discover what I wanted to do with my life. I admit that this past school year, I didn’t have the passion for journalism like I used to.
With three jobs and a full class schedule, I saw my journalism class just like any other class. That is, get the story, write it, and move on to the next subject. I was exhausted and wasn’t taking the time to enjoy the process of reporting and writing stories like I used to. In honesty, I spent most of my time second semester hopping back and forth between career advising appointments, planning out new schedules as if I was an advertising or a media and information student. I had too many interests that I had difficulty in narrowing it down. I loved doing freelance design and marketing work for nonprofits and also being a part of the production teams for student films. I felt lost, not knowing what I aspect of the media I would want to work for. I was confused as peers all around me had their whole careers planned out while I couldn’t have told someone what my fall class schedule looked like. I felt embarrassed to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” with an “I don’t know,” as an incoming college junior. I was frustrated when signing up for my classes next school year, having just chose to explore the broadcast journalism concentration to see if that is the path I would want to take.
So for this trip, it was my own personal goal to explore the various platforms of media and gain a better understanding as to where I would fit best in the creative world. Now that this five-week journey across the U.K. and Ireland is coming to the end, I am excited to say that I have fallen back in love with journalism and am more confident about the career that I am pursuing. I credit the advice and the experiences I had heard from the professionals working in the broadcast productions and writing for news for reintegrating this passion of mine.
I have never once been on the set of a television program before coming on this trip, and touring the studio of iTV was everything that I envisioned a set to be. A line of cameras pointed in various directions towards a set of couches and a staged kitchen area. The lightening was perfect that no one on camera seemed to have a bad angle. Though fiddling around with equipment and pretending to be a talk show host was amusing, it was the workers of iTV who I was more interested in learning about. At every professional place we visited, I wanted to hear how the employees kick-started their careers, how they got to be where they are today, etc. Like my peers, I’m just a student trying to carve a similar successful career for myself, hoping that the real world isn’t too harsh on me. Each of the three individuals I talked to at iTV all started off as runners, meaning they spent time helping every department of the production to see where they would like to work. They emphasized that exploration is key and in many cases, connecting with other professionals to learn more about the career is vital as they themselves are eager to teach you.
Freelance journalist Nadeem Badshah was the journalist I had always envisioned myself to be. A freelance writer, having stories printed in several major newspapers, articles published on their websites, telling people’s stories, writing in-depth features, and traveling occasionally. Though I have been interested in broadcast lately, I could still see myself writing for a newspaper one day. Nadeem gave me the advice I had never heard before, and that was don’t find a niche. Don’t settle for just one thing when you have the ability to discover more. For writing, he said to try writing something you aren’t used to, such as cover a sporting event if you are an expert columnist. Nadeem also reassured me that newspapers aren’t dying, though they are not in the best place they have been before. Even since he began his career ten years ago, he was told the same thing, but alas, newspapers are still prominent today. There will always be a need for media and journalists to tell the stories and to try the best to make sense of what is happening in the world.
I think out of this whole trip, touring BBC Scotland was my favorite (well it ties with talking to Josh Berger at Warner Brothers and exploring the studio of Harry Potter). BBC Scotland was the perfect reassurance that journalism is what I want to do. The building itself was designed to embody the creativity and the work produced within BBC. I was captivated by all of the different media dimensions of BBC. From the reporting the news to creating drama television series, to radio and music, there were many components to the company I had never realized. I was completely fascinated at the innovation and compelled by the network’s strive to be different from all of its other competing companies. They take pride in their work and are determined to create an impact on society with the work they produce. While touring, I kept thinking to myself as we went from studio to studio that is exactly what I want to do. I want to be a part of the process of telling someone’s story and having an audience that will listen to it, hoping it will leave an influence. I think our guide, Ian, gave me the best piece of advice I had ever received and that was you can’t make your dreams come true its entirety unless you have the complete passion and persistence to make it happen. In short, you have to love what you do because without the passion, there is no drive.
Though the work of the advertising for Guinness was revolutionary and the people from agency, Golley Slater, were extraordinary themselves, I wasn’t as inspired to potentially work in the field of advertising as I was when exploring iTV or BBC or even listening to Nadeem. The thing is, though I figured out that journalism is right for me, I still don’t know what exactly I want to do with it, and that’s okay. There are plenty of opportunities for me to explore, and I have all of my life to do so. I can work in broadcast, I can freelance for a printed paper, I could create my own documentary, etc. The various skills I acquire in the journalism curriculum and during professional experiences will prepare me for whatever roles I take on.
As I journey back home, I cannot wait for this upcoming school year to start. I feel that once I head back to East Lansing, I will have a lot more confidence in myself as an aspiring journalist then I ever had before. My schedule will be more relaxed (no more working three jobs) that I can have time outside of class to become involved in more media-related activities. I am feeling confident now and eager to begin the pursuit of making my dreams into realities.