Emily Hunter is a senior journalism major and writes “Speak Out” for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
A word of warning to communications underclassmen: Professors will try to scare you into joining student media.
From the moment you step foot in your JOUR 101 classroom, they will drill into your head that journalism is a competitive field and joining student media will give you the experience employers are looking for. They’ll quote statistics about how students involved in student media are more successful than those who aren’t — like you’re wasting your time and money if you don’t join.
But if you’re anything like me, student media can become a giant looming over your college career, swallowing you in its shadow. You’re constantly battling your social anxiety, signing up for Slack channels and email chains, but never actually stepping foot in the Unified Media Lab (UML).
There is truth to what they say: Student media looks fantastic on a resume and allows you to build your portfolio. But you shouldn’t join because of fear of what will happen if you don’t. You should join out of excitement for what will happen when you do.
I decided to join student media at the beginning of my sophomore year because I felt like I had to. I wasn’t completely interested in writing, but other than my classes, I didn’t have any journalism experience or connections to people in my major. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I prayed for a sign.
When I checked my email less than an hour later, I had a message from The Daily News in my inbox.
I can confidently say that joining student media changed the trajectory of my life. I went in questioning my major, and came out with a passion for journalism I didn’t even know I possessed.
The Daily News allowed me to nurture my love of copy editing through shadowing on print nights while also giving me a space to explore my options as a journalist. I found a niche in opinion writing and have written five published columns over the course of two years. I came full circle during my final semester of college by becoming copy director – the same position I shadowed during my first semester with The Daily News.
I took a leap with Byte during my senior year by responding to a call-out for students interested in recording a Dungeons & Dragons podcast. I had absolutely zero podcast experience with recording or listening, but my love for D&D and my urge to get involved with Byte overruled. After a full semester recording episodes of what came to be known as “Roll for Immersion,” I’m happy to say that leap was unquestionably worth it. The hours spent in the studio laughing and rolling dice quickly became one of the highlights of my semester.
The growing confidence student media gave me pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible. I created content I was proud of, and sent my parents pictures and links of every story I wrote. No matter how many stories you publish, the excitement of seeing your work in print or online never goes away.
I am also incredibly grateful to student media for the friends it gave me, because I didn’t have many before. Whether they be fellow editors or podcast co-hosts, I am truly blessed to have them in my life. In times where I was doubting myself and my abilities, they gave me the extra push I needed to be the best possible version of myself. To them I say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
All of this is what makes it so hard to be graduating this year.
It’s never too late to get involved with student media, but my one regret is that I didn’t do it sooner, especially since I am graduating in three years instead of four; my time was already limited.
So, another word of warning to the underclassmen: the semesters will pass by quickly. Take advantage of the amazing opportunities you don’t even know you have.
Ball State student media has left a beautiful legacy that’s rich with history and talent. I feel honored to have left my mark on it, just as it has left its mark on me.
Contact Emily Hunter with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @emily_hunter_01.