When I started to think this college thing through it was unsettling.

I was leaving all of the opportunities I had experienced while in high school. I was saying good-bye to my mentors, teachers, and connections. Scary stuff. I recently went to this leadership conference through The Ohio State University. They taught us all about networking, engaging seemingly anyone in an interesting conversation, and how to utilize our strengths, rather than focus on what our weaknesses are. I’m excited to meet new people, but every person you meet think of as a connection. People can collectively change your perspective, help you understand life better, and show you more about yourself while you’re focusing on trying to get to know them. All of this navigates itself to becoming a better journalist.

Even when you aren’t on the job, learning more about people will help you become more comfortable during interviews. When you are comfortable, the interviewee also becomes comfortable. Any one can have ambition and go earn a journalism (or broadcast journalism) degree. Experiences however shape a journalist into a well-known, well-loved “character.” (I use the term character loosely. I’ve read articles and heard observations linking a journalist or reporter to an actor/actress. The jobs listed above serve two different purposes. Enough said.)

When you are on the job, absorb. As I mentioned earlier, leaving one chapter in my life meant leaving mentors. However, I’ve already found some great mentors here in Columbus. I see how they interact with me and other people, how they form and ask questions, and how they interview. Combining info from multiple mentors and most importantly your own experiences makes you the ideal people-person and interviewer.

Another trait I’ve seen, don’t make any enemies. It’s okay to agree to disagree and only be an acquaintance with some one. In this industry, don’t think of a connection as an advantage to yourself and your career, but what will make you love your job. Don’t get caught up in silly stuff.

For example, I went out of my way to show Jack* that I cared at Leadership Collaborative. We had mailboxes there to put notes in through out the week, and I wrote him a note even though we had only had one conversation (which was somewhat awkward.) It made me upset since I don’t normally have a problem engaging anyone in a wholesome and upbeat conversation. I put my pride aside, and knowing that I wanted to keep that connection firm, I wrote the note with grace and excellence. Jack* came up to me and talked to me a few days ago (it wasn’t awkward either.) The power of what a small gesture can do!

The point is, look at the world around you and the people around you and embrace it. Grow where you are planted. It will fascinate you, make you excited to work, and make you a true journalist.

(On a side note: I’m now a few weeks into this college thing and it’s pretty amazing. I’ve already been experiencing a lot of new opportunities; some are far better than the ones I left in high school. I will probably be updating you as I am a video editor/commercial producer for the honors and scholars program here at OSU.)

MelHeadshotMelissa Prax is currently a student at The Ohio State University, majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Biochemistry. As an editor and commercial producer for the honors and scholars program at OSU, she is continuing to do what she loves in and out of the class room. Her experience and first taste in writing and editing goes back to her high school Interactive Multimedia class. Since then, she is continuing to branch out her skills with new opportunities.