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Letter to the editor

Dear future journalism students

December 12, 2018

Dear future journalism students,

As graduation approaches, it is a time of both excitement but also some waking fears on what is next. However, this time allows individuals to take a step back and reflect on their time, and I can say that I have been doing that a lot lately.

I wanted to share three pieces of advice to help you on your journey to become a journalist, communicator or whatever career you have chosen.

Find you passion and follow it. When I was trying to decide on a career path early in my college experience, someone asked me what I loved doing when I was five years old. I found it an odd question at first, but my mentor explained that generally what excites us as children, is oftentimes where our passions lie. My answer was simple: planes and flying. Because of that, I attended EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. and got connected with a corporate communications specialist at Airbus which opened my eyes to the idea of public relations and communications. My question for you is, what were you passionate about at age five?

Take every opportunity you are given. During your time in college you will have opportunities to try new things, take every opportunity. If I had not started doing a radio show on WRFW in September 2016, I probably would not have gotten interested in news media and change my major to journalism. Likewise, when offered a communications internship at the UWRF Communications and Marketing office, I would not have discovered my enjoyment of photography and video production, skills that have led to numerous jobs and internships. Even if the opportunity seems way out in left field, take it. Maybe it is an internship in a market you never considered before or maybe it is a leadership position at a student media organization. You might fail, but you will always learn something and that experience is valuable.

Find a balanced mentor. Over my last four years, I have gotten to know a lot of professionals in the journalism, corporate communications and public relations fields. Many of them have become friends and mentors who have helped me find professional development opportunities. They have encouraged me when I needed an uplift, and they have been brutally honest with me at times in areas that I needed to improve in. You need that balance in a mentor, someone who will encourage you but also be critical when you need that.

My parting piece of advice is simple. Take the path less traveled. Understand that you may be seeking a degree in a specific area like journalism, but there are a thousand and one routes you could take with that degree. Take the skills you learned in your classes and internships and apply them to your chosen career field. For me, that meant I had to understand that I did not want to be a journalist at news media, but instead I found my fit in corporate communications and public relations. You never know until you try.

Good luck to my fellow journalism students, I can’t wait to see what each and every one of you do once you graduate from UWRF!

Chris Gregg