My days as editor-in-chief of The Eastern Echo are officially numbered. News editor Nora Naughton is poised to gradually take over the position in the next few weeks, which is pretty cool considering that anyone who knows her knows the paper will be in good hands.
But giving up my cozy little office beside the newsroom is proving to be a bittersweet process. This is the job that literally changed my outlook on life, and not many people my age can say they’ve had an occupation like that. Don’t get me wrong – I would not willingly submit to this again, at least not while simultaneously double majoring and working two other jobs. But I don’t regret a single moment of my time as editor-in-chief, and here’s why.
1. I’ve matured more in the past year than I have during any point during my life. Twelve months ago, I was only two years removed from the halls of high school and had never as much as flipped a burger, let alone had a job outside of the paper. I still had little leadership experience aside from yelling commands at my old colorguard squad and pretending I had some kind of power as senior class president (the fact that I was elected because no one else ran probably had a lot to do with it). I didn’t know how to deal with problems bigger than myself, and when you’re running a news source that covers the entire community, you run into a lot of those.
A year later, I feel like a completely different person than the young woman who applied for the job. While I’m admittedly a bit more jaded, I feel I’m also better prepared for life beyond the paper. With a position like this, you learn to accept criticism, you learn to work under pressure and perhaps most importantly, you learn your strengths and weaknesses.
2. You make so many connections as editor-in-chief, connections that will come in handy for the rest of your career. I’ve spoken to university officials, fellow journalists and students from all walks of life. I’ve always maintained that my favorite part of being in the field of journalism is the opportunities to meet others and learn their stories, and you get so many opportunities to do just that. Which leads me to…
3. …how quickly you learn where your passions really lie. Prior to becoming editor-in-chief, I’d only ever worked as a feature writer, typically focusing on the arts and interesting people around campus. But if you’re going to run the entire newspaper, you better start dipping your toe into every aspect of it, including (duh) news. Don’t get me wrong – I love the excitement of pursuing a juicy story. It satisfies my insatiable curiosity.
But as anyone who’s turned on CNN or basically any other news channel lately could tell you, news is really depressing sometimes. It takes an emotionally strong person to deal with the pressure, and it really does weigh on you after a while. Me, I like reporting on the strange, quirky, uplifting or beautiful. I came to realize these are the stories I want to spend my life writing, giving people a break from the tragic and reminding readers that even in hours of darkness, there is still reason to smile.
4. Not everyone is your friend. I’ve had more struggles with other people this year than I’ve ever had, and that’s unusual for me as I typically avoid conflict at all costs. I don’t know how many times I’ve broken down after a particularly grating interaction with someone. But you become accustomed to this and after a while, you grow a thick skin. Like I wrote earlier, you learn to accept criticism and take it for what it is.
5. Once you do this, you can do anything. I now know that no matter what job I get, both in the newspaper business and outside of the newspaper business, I can handle it. That’s the kind of confidence you can’t buy or sell – you need an experience like this. Whoever reads this thing, I’m hoping you find a job like this in whatever field you’re getting into. Even if it’s the most difficult, stressful year of your life, you’ll come out stronger for it. Trust me, I know.