A Journalism Major Writes Her Career Story, One Step at a Time

Leaving the Nest for College

I am a Michigan girl, born and raised. When choosing a college I always thought I would want to attend the University of Michigan, but after much consideration I decided I wanted to go to a city that I had never been to before. So in the fall of 2004, East Lansing became my new stomping grounds and Michigan State University was now my home. However, not too long after I moved into my dorm did the little voice in my mind start telling me that I might not have another chance to pick up my whole life and move to anywhere I wanted. I started to think that I should consider going to school out of state. Since I had a friend who went to the University of Texas at Austin, I decided to visit and see if the little voice was on to something.

It was love at first sight. I became obsessed with the campus, the people, the city, the tourist attractions and everything else. I went back to Michigan with a new objective for my freshman year: do well enough to get accepted to UT. After months of hard work and discipline, my dream of transferring finally came true and I moved to Austin in May 2005. As luck would have it, all of my credits from MSU transferred along with me.  I finished college in four years with a bachelor degree in journalism, and a magazine concentration. Moving to Austin was one of the best decisions I have ever made and helped shape me into the woman I have become today.

Learning to be a Journalist

As I mentioned, I earned my bachelor degree in Journalism, with a concentration in magazine journalism. I enjoy school in general so I liked all of my classes throughout the years, but some of my favorites were the magazine journalism classes. My feature writing class allowed me to think outside the structural concepts I had learned in my earlier writing classes, while my advanced magazine writing class taught me how to incorporate my personal flair, without going over the top. I also loved reporting classes since I believe every great journalist should know how to conduct an interview and how to get juicy information from subjects.

My Post-College Career Path

Since graduating from UT in May 2008, my career path has gone uphill, downhill, to the left, to the right, dead ended, winded in circles and still takes me by surprise. I found that though my professors honed my skills as a journalist, they did not prepare me for the career world, especially with the economy being as bad as it is. I definitely didn't know what I was in for after graduation, which ended up being months and months of searching for a job, any job.

Working in the Restaurant Business

I worked as a bartender at a popular restaurant on the lake throughout college and continued to do so after graduation, partly because I wanted to have a job that allowed me to have some free time and partly because I wasn't finding a lot of jobs for which I was qualified. Since I worked and went to school full time for four years, I never found time for an internship or job that was related to what I studied.  I knew that I needed experience to eventually get hired for a position in the journalism field so I decided to apply for an internship at Austin Monthly, one of Austin's top magazines.  The magazine had always been an inspirational icon for me since Austin held a very special place in my heart. I wanted the internship more than I wanted anything else so when I was turned down, I was deeply hurt. Especially because I knew that getting an internship for such a prestigious magazine would open a lot of doors for me! So I continued to stay in touch with the Assistant Editor and applied for an internship again a few months later. Because I remained determined, I was brought on as an intern and worked for the magazine four or more days a week!

Going for the "Big Girl" Job

When my time  at Austin Monthly ended, I was ready to quit the restaurant world and focus on getting what I called a "real" job or "big girl" job. I spent months applying to any and every job out there, whether it applied to my undergraduate degree or not. As the weeks passed, I was not always positive; there were many times that I wanted to give up on myself. But with the support of family and friends, I kept my head up and finally found an office manager position at a Vet Hospital. This position had nothing to do with my major, but working with animals was a passion I had since I was a little girl so I figured, "why not?" I was hired in July 2009, more than a year after graduating.  The road to this position was anything but easy, but if I have learned anything, it is that as long as you are hungry for something and actively go after it, there won't be anything that stands in your way. And I am now the happiest I have ever been! 

A Day in the Life Working at a Vet Hospital

A day in the life of my current job is more rewarding than I ever thought possible. I wake up, put on my scrubs and tennis shoes and head to Georgetown. Usually I have some administrative duties to do in the morning, such as answering and writing emails and getting the clinic open and ready for our clients. If it's a surgery day, I help the other nurses get catheters in the animals, take blood and run samples to make sure the animal is good to go under anesthesia.  I also help the receptionists check in patients and talk with clients. Throughout the day I perform veterinary nursing duties and also managerial duties. Some days I do one or the other.

What I love about my job is that I learn something new every single day. I live with a student mentality and continue to soak up new information as much as possible. I get to help animals live longer and healthier and save lives of those that are in trouble. I also get to interact with many different types of people and communicate with them. I love that my hands are always moving and busy because I don't like to be still or not have something to do. I also enjoy continuing to freelance write when I get home.

Good Days & Bad Days at Work

Though I love my work, not every day is "rainbows and butterflies."  There are times that I would rather be anywhere but the clinic! Clients that don't want to give their animal the best care, patients that do not make it through the day, field leaders breathing down my back to get our numbers higher and other miscellaneous challenges arise each week. I have had to let go more than one staff member, have put myself in uncomfortable situations with clients and have to take the blame for things that my staff was responsible for more than a few times. But I take the good with the bad, the easy with the difficult and strive to balance everything at once.

My Experience with Online Classes

I have taken an online class once before and to be honest, I did not enjoy it. The class itself was educational, but I am the kind of person that likes to be in a classroom with a teacher.  When I am at home, I can get very distracted.  Even if I do well in the class, I don't retain the information as much as I do in a classroom setting. What I would be interested in trying is a hybrid degree program.  The fact that you could spend some time taking online classes and some time in the classroom may be a great fit for my learning style.  I think it is great that classes are offered online, but I am a bigger fan of the classes on campus; combining the two may allow me to keep my current job, while experiencing the convenience and benefits of a customized online degree program. If I knew that taking an online class would increase my salary, I would definitely consider enrolling in it and giving online education another try.