Though it feels impossible, my time here as a Graduate Student Ambassador for the Journalism MA program at Columbia College Chicago has finally come to a close, and soon I’ll be leaving you in the capable hands of Katie Kather. Now that I’m finished with the program and on a job hunt, here are my top five reasons why getting an MA in Journalism was the right choice for me:
5) Studying at Columbia College Chicago, with it’s small class sizes and involved professors, gave me the chance to experiment and learn what exactly I wanted to do in the world of journalism. My professors helped me nail down a specialty—narrative journalism or editing—and then found ways for me to practice and grow in those niches.
4) We focused on applying the critical reasoning grad school requires to our daily work as a newsroom, developing technology-proof storytelling skills, and staying ahead of the game with technology and digital journalism. I feel this gives me a leg up because technology comes and goes, but knowing how to tell important stories across today’s platforms and being ready to adapt to tomorrow’s is critical.
3) I developed my voice as a journalist and a writer. Though I learned the classic inverted pyramid style of news writing, I also learned how to write narrative leads, features, tweets, editorials, broadcast style, infographics, essays, and blogs. Writing is fundamental to journalism—even broadcast—because you have to organize your thoughts and tell a good story. After doing so much of it here, I feel I know better what kinds of stories I want to tell and how I’m going to tell them.
2) The experience I gained working as part of a real newsroom from day one was critical to jump-starting my career change. Nearly all of our classes were workshop or seminar style to have us working as reporters and editors from our very first assignment. The standards here are high, and you’re expected to produce publishable quality work. But gaining that professional experience while you’re completing your degree means you’re ready to go once you graduate.
1) The colleagues and professors you work with here are the best resources you can find. Besides benefiting from their years of experience and their mentoring, I’ve found many are working journalists with contacts aplenty and are happy to recommend grad students to their wonderful networks in the Chicago media landscape, the third largest in the country.
Thank you for reading my work on Marginalia. I hope it’s showed you a peek inside the life of a journalism grad student. I’m getting my own blog up and running at stephanieewing.com, so stop by sometime, or follow me on twitter, @Stephanie_Ewing. And happy journalizing!