Lauren: Extracurriculars are the New Classroom

As an associate editor for the Daily Free Press and an editorial intern for BU Today, some would think I have more experience than I actually do. No, I don’t have a degree in communication or journalism (yet). No, I haven’t even had internships with big name newspapers (yet). I’m just your lowly BU student journalist with five or some years of actual journalistic experience behind me.

Having the primary idea that I would succeed as a neurologist, I took my slight disgust at seeing the inner human body as a sign that it wasn’t the right path for me. Though I stopped have this career aspiration only as a high school freshman, I felt like I had no direction, jumping to find different passions in music, psychology and photography, but nothing stuck.

I happened upon journalism on accident, joining my high school’s Journalistic Writing course when I begrudgingly found out that I couldn’t fit a photography class into my freshman year schedule. But I stuck it out, relishing the experience rather than resenting it. When I made the decision to pick up journalism as a career out of the blue, I knew the only proper journalistic thing to do was to get more research and experience.

But what did I know? The only paper I’ve ever written for was my high school newspaper, the Oracle, along with some offhand participation in my elementary and middle school paper, the Wildcat Times and the Tiger Tribune, respectively. I’d written for my town’s local newspaper as well, but none of my articles would reach a readership higher than a thousand at best. Coming to one of the best journalism schools in the nation was nothing less than daunting to me.

My first day back in September was nothing like I would have ever expected. I was easily able to become a part of the FreeP here, and join a few other journalism things on the side (BUTV10, BU Today, etc.). Despite not having any huge internships behind me, I was given as equal of an opportunity to learn about journalism, in and out of the classroom. While I was still surrounded by former Globe co-op participants and former NBC interns, I wasn’t a fish out of the water here, but I was still a small fish in a big pond.

All fish-related colloquialisms aside, I truly do believe that extra curricular activities truly do prepare you for the professional world of journalism more than you may think. They provide you with helpful connections (and lasting friendships) with people, while exposing you to a journalistic culture that a 50-minute discussion just won’t do.

Seeing that I only have been a BU student for a little more than a semester and a half, I still have a lot to learn as the rest of the of my time here progresses. Thanks to the guys and gals here at the College of Communication and beyond, I know that journalism was a good choice to pick up as a career. Sure, I have yet to find a voice and to stop being awkwardly detached in phone interviews. Sure, I sometimes throw in an Oxford comma in my articles on accident. But that all comes with time and practice, something I hope I’ll have in years to come. And though I didn’t know it in the past, I would have much rather taken J-writing over a photography class any day.

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