If you told me a year ago that I’d be working for a newspaper in West Virginia, I probably would have cackled. Last year I was on the track to work in broadcast journalism as a producer or a radio reporter. I already had casual job offers at a few TV stations throughout Florida.
When I graduated college I had no idea what I was going to do. The answer I gave people changed often - public radio producing, digital reporting and producing for TV stations, MMJ-ing for newspapers, or even just pursuing a career in social media. I said I’d decide after News21. By then I’d know what I wanted to do, right?
Wrong. After 10 weeks in Phoenix, I was more confused about my future than ever. More opportunities were in front of me than ever. I applied for almost 200 jobs, and waited. I interviewed with some of them. After years of people telling me I was talented, people were telling me that I just wasn’t ready. In their defense, I wasn’t ready for a lot of the jobs I interviewed for. Don’t ask me why they even called me. The word potential was thrown around a lot. So was the phrase “call us in a year or two.”
By the end of September, I was slowly losing my mind. I was a finalist for a lot of killer positions, but then I’d lose out on them to more experienced reporters or Ivy League grads.
I won’t go to in depth into my interviewing process with the Gazette-Mail, but for the first time I felt almost confident. I was passionate about the stories they were doing, and interested in the changing nature of West Virginia. A good friend had also recently accepted a job there, so that was another plus.
But there were also negatives. Would I be able to handle life in West Virginia? How would I adjust to going back into the newspaper industry after being gone for almost 3 years? Would the staff take a 22-year-old Floridian with a broadcast journalism degree seriously?
When I was offered the job, I quickly accepted and hoped for the best. I bought a new car, started looking for apartments and sweaters, and did a lot of panicking
The transition has gone far better than expected. Yes, I check my AP Stylebook more than I should (it’s been a while, y’all.) I’m still writing notes during interviews slower than I expected. I’m adjusting to this whole “inches” thing, too.
A couple of my stories gained a lot of traction this week, as a lot of you may know. I’m not addressing it much further - if you want to read them, I have the first linked here. The interview requests poured in, as did congratulations from the same recruiters who rejected me from jobs a few weeks prior. Calls and emails came in from all over the world. It was my 7th day at the paper, and I was just as shocked as you might expect.
For the first time in a while, I can say that I really believe good things are ahead. West Virginia as a whole has been so kind, loving, and accepting. I’ve hugged way more people than I ever expected, and most of you know I’m not a big hugger. I’m starting to get the hang of things.
Will I still freak out during my first snowy winter? Probably, and I accept the fact that all of my editors will tease me mercilessly during it. Will I still occasionally look dumbfounded when someone asks me if I know my way to an assignment? Yes, and I know Google Maps will be my friend for a while. Will I eventually know all the words to Take Me Home, Country Roads? I have the first verse and the chorus down at least.
How long will I stay here? Will I continue to work in print? When will I finally get to eat a chicken tender Pub Sub again? I can’t answer those questions yet. But I’ll let you know when I can.