Marginalia, Graduate Blog

The Most Important Thing I Learned This Semester…. Do The Things That Scare You

Journalism Graduate Student in the Field

Journalism Graduate Students Devon Marti and Saiyna Bashir get ready to go interview some of Chicago’s homeless population.

It might sound cliché and in a way it is, but the thing that I have learned the most not just this semester but during my entire time in this program, is to do the things that scare you. This semester alone, I can assure you I have run into this situation a few times.

The Most Important Thing I Learned This Semester…. Do The Things That Scare You

It might sound cliché and in a way it is, but the thing that I have learned the most not just this semester but during my entire time in this …

Journalism MA Devon Marti, devon.marti@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

What To Know Before Coming to Columbia

While out looking for sources for a story about homeless voting, Journalism MA students Saiyna Bashir and Devon Marti help feed the homeless with Caroly Boyd, CEO of Humble Hearts Organization.

While out looking for sources for a story about homeless voting, Journalism MA students Saiyna Bashir and Devon Marti help feed the homeless with Caroly Boyd, CEO of Humble Hearts Organization.

Yesterday was Admitted Student Day at Columbia College Chicago for our admitted journalism graduate class of 2016. Before today, I sat down and tried to think about everything I wished I were told before coming to Columbia—the financial aide process, what I needed to know before starting class, what I should prepare with, etc.

I decided then that I would bestow my knowledge upon these prospective new students about the ins-and-outs of our program, from my perspective. I didn’t want to just give them the same old tired speech of “this program is great, come join us and we will help prepare you for a job in the field.” While this statement is true—Columbia’s Journalism, MA program is excellent at getting you connections and opportunities—I wanted to tell them what it is really like to go to Columbia and what tips I could share with them before they begin their journeys in this program.

I decided the best way to do this would be to have all of our current graduate students join the admitted students and I for lunch. As we all sat down to eat, I figured the best way to jump right into things was for all of us to say our names, where we are from, and what area of journalism we want to pursue (the typical first grade icebreaker).

As we all began to talk and the environment became more laid back, the current graduate students and myself began to recall everything we all wished we had been told before starting the program and started to give some of the best advice I have heard for students thinking about coming to Columbia. Here is the break-down for all of you:

1. Get on your smart phone and download every new source application in the city of Chicago, and read the alerts every day. Reporting on public affairs in the Chicago involves knowing all of the public affairs that go on in the city, as well as all of the politicians and organizations that are involved with them. It may sound simple but in order to produce great news, you need to read the news yourself.
2. Start learning how to use Photoshop and Final Cut Pro 10. While in Jackie Spinner’s Digital Journalism class during the Fall semester, you will be taught the basics of these, but after that you are on your own to figure out how to edit your photos and videos. The best way to learn how to use these applications without having to spend the money to purchase them is to watch the tutorials on www.lynda.com. There are also tutorials on YouTube you could watch as well. Learning the basics before you are in Professor Spinner’s class will help you have more time to focus on learning how to shoot video and photos.

Journalism MA student Michael Esparza shooting Illinois State Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Norridge) while speaking to an undergraduate journalism class at Columbia College Chicago

Journalism MA student Michael Esparza shooting Illinois State Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Norridge) while speaking to an undergraduate journalism class at Columbia College Chicago

3. Start learning how to shoot videos and photos, and start looking into the equipment to buy now. If you do not own a DSLR camera, I advise you to start looking into purchasing one. Under the equipment guide for our program, it states the equipment you will need for the Digital Journalism class. While it may seem like a lot of money to be spending, this equipment will be used throughout your whole time at Columbia, as well as into your career. Having the equipment before starting the class will allow you time to become familiar with it, especially your camera. This will allow you to jump right into the assignments you are given in the class. You will be taught more tips and tricks from Professor Spinner, but the more comfortable you are with your camera when you begin your class with her, the easier it will be to learn more.
4. Time management in this program will be your best friend, and so will your passion for this career path. As important as it will be for you to make sure you make enough time to find sources, interview those sources, write up your stories, edit them, get photos or video for those stories, and sleep, it is equally important that you are passionate about this field of work. Otherwise, it can become too much. This program is extremely hands-on, it is a lot of work, but it is so incredibly worth it. In our program you will become the best possible journalist that you can be and it will help you in your future career.

This program does not ask you to be the world’s greatest writer, photographer or editor, but it does ask you to improve your skills in these areas. This is what our program has that others do not—we make you the most well rounded journalist we can. When you leave this program you will know how to shoot videos and photos, how to pitch and write a full news-worthy story, how to edit your photos and video in Final Cut Pro and Photoshop, and you will have a rolodex full of sources. You will make connections through our faculty and your cohort, as well as the ones you yourself make on your own. You will leave this program with the confidence of knowing you can go out and cover a news story with the best of them, because you are now one of them.

What To Know Before Coming to Columbia

Yesterday was Admitted Student Day at Columbia College Chicago for our admitted journalism graduate class of 2016. Before today, I sat down and tried to think about everything I wished …

Journalism MA Devon Marti, devon.marti@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

How My Recent Trip to Springfield Opened The Door To A New Side of Journalism

Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, IL.

Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, IL.

While the Journalism, MA program at Columbia College Chicago puts you into the real world of journalism in the classroom—by assigning deadlines and conducting interviews with sources—it is not exactly the same as what you are going to be doing when you get out into the field. The professors in this program know that, which is why every year they send the journalism graduate students to Springfield, IL to report on the state public affairs first-hand.

How My Recent Trip to Springfield Opened The Door To A New Side of Journalism

While the Journalism, MA program at Columbia College Chicago puts you into the real world of journalism in the classroom—by assigning deadlines and conducting interviews with sources—it is not exactly …

Journalism MA Devon Marti, devon.marti@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

It is Really All About Who You Know

Megan Wenzl, Saiyna Bashir and Devon Marti attend the ASNE conference in August.

When I first started to look into Columbia College Chicago for graduate school, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I applied to the school as an alternative plan for schools, as my plan since the age of sixteen was to move to Boston and become a journalist there.

I was accepted into both of the programs I applied to, but I chose Columbia College. For some reason, something inside of me was telling me this was the right choice; Chicago was where I was meant to go.

It is Really All About Who You Know

When I first started to look into Columbia College Chicago for graduate school, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I applied to the school as …

Journalism MA Devon Marti, devon.marti@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Moving to the Windy City was the Scariest but Best Thing I Have Ever Done

As the recently new ambassador to Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have noticed a common question in the emails I have received from the prospective students applying to our program.

This question is, “How have you adjusted to life in Chicago?”

While the answer may seem like a no-brainer, because I have had great opportunities in Columbia’s journalism program thus far, I was without words, as I realized I had not yet asked myself this question.

Moving to the Windy City was the Scariest but Best Thing I Have Ever Done

As the recently new ambassador to Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have noticed a common question in the emails I have received from the prospective students applying to …

Journalism MA Devon Marti, devon.marti@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Goodbye and Thank You…Ambassador Out

Columbia College Chicago Journalism MA class of 2014. Photo Credit: Saiyna Bashir

Well I’m approaching the one month mark since my thesis was signed off on, which signified the end of my Journalism, MA program at Columbia College Chicago.

That also means this is my last post on Marginalia. It’s weird to think I’m done. It feels like just yesterday I was reaching out to the ambassador about the application process. I feel like I just received my acceptance letter—the best Valentine. I remember turning in my notice to leave my advertising job to move to Chicago and pursue my dream career.

Goodbye and Thank You…Ambassador Out

Well I’m approaching the one month mark since my thesis was signed off on, which signified the end of my Journalism, MA program at Columbia College Chicago. That also means …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

‘Tis the Season to Apply

Talking B1G Ten with Campus Insiders’ resident football analyst Doug Chapman. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

‘Tis the season to apply…

…because you never know unless you try.

What do you have to lose?

With Columbia College Chicago you have so many options to choose.

There’s no wrong decision when it’s where you want to be.

So take the step to “live what you love,” and be free.

Free from the wonder, the past life, the past job, the past choice that left you wanting more.

Free from the lack of experience or education that is holding you back from landing that first job and breaking into the industry.

Free from the debate of making a career change or the questions of whether this is the right choice and the right place.

Doing a college hoops segment with Campus Insiders’ resident basketball analyst Jordan Cornette. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

In my last blog I wrote about my one regret being I didn’t start this program sooner—and it’s true. This is the career I’ve always wanted to pursue and instead of letting those employer rejections get to me, I took their advice: I got more education at a place that provided me with the hands-on experience I was missing.

Since my last blog, I finished reading one of our professor’s, books—“Tell Them I Didn’t Cry: A Young Journalist’s Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq” by Jackie Spinner.

In her book she talked about a speech she gave to aspiring journalists at her alma mater. She said, “There is only one way to get where you want to go, and it really is quite simple. Start walking.”

Spinner said it, and I’m backing it up and repeating it to all of you who are on the fence, in the process of applying, or still debating about grad school.

Why not? What’s holding you back?

In so many of my blogs I shared the inner thoughts I had about leaving a career I had begun, my hometown, family and everything I had known behind to pursue my dream career.

It’s a tough decision, but deep down if you know it’s the right decision, then what are you waiting for?

I often get questions from prospective students about the application process—“What should I include for my writing samples?” “What should I say in my personal essay?” “Why did you choose Columbia?” “What have you gotten to experience?”

Calling Campus Insiders’ resident basketball analyst Jordan Cornette out on one of his Cinderella teams during our college hoops segment. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

Well, my response for the latter of the two has been thoroughly discussed in previous blogs, but as for the writing samples and the personal essay, I say this:

You’re writing samples can be anything that showcases your journalistic writing style—an article, a blog or a research paper. There is no right or wrong work to turn in as long as it’s yours and something that will give the faculty an idea of how you write.

Your personal essay, well, they want it to be just that—personal. They want your honesty in why you’re choosing this program, what is it about journalism that makes you want to pursue it as a career, where do you think you want to take your career and more. They want it to come from the heart and be true to your story. Give them a background for how you came to the decision to apply and where you want to go and how Columbia will help you get there.

Again, there is no right or wrong answer, but the committee wants your answer, not something cookie-cutter that sounds right. For me, I came from a job I did not see myself being in long-term and wanted to make a career change back to the career I always wanted. Maybe your undergrad experience wasn’t hands-on enough, you feel you have more room to grow or you want a city setting experience.

Whatever the reason, tell them that.

It’s been two years (nearly to the day) that I applied to Columbia, and now here I am, finished with the program.

I feel like it was just yesterday I was applying and asking the same questions you all are. I remember getting my materials together, reaching out to my references and picking the brain of the ambassador. And now here I am, at the end of my journey and looking towards the next chapter.

It’s a scary and nerve-racking experience at times, but like I said before, if it’s what you want to do, you have nothing to lose.

So what are you waiting for?

‘Tis the season to apply, so get on it.

Doing a college football segment on the B1G Ten with Campus Insiders’ resident football analyst Doug Chapman. Journalism MA Danielle M. Dwyer December 2014

‘Tis the Season to Apply

‘Tis the season to apply… …because you never know unless you try. What do you have to lose? With Columbia College Chicago you have so many options to choose. There’s …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

My One Regret

 

Loving what I do during my studio record at my Campus Insiders internship. Credit: Danielle M. Dwyer

Ever since I became the ambassador for Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have received lots of questions about how I knew leaving behind everything to pursue my master’s in Chicago was the right decision.

My One Regret

  Ever since I became the ambassador for Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program, I have received lots of questions about how I knew leaving behind everything to pursue my …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Alumni Spotlight: Reema Amin

Reema Amin Selfie. Photo Credit: Reema Amin

Reema Amin Selfie. Photo Credit: Reema Amin

Sometimes you end up on a different path from where you started.

For Columbia College Chicago Journalism MA alum, Reema Amin, that was the case.

Although Amin, 24, said she secretly wanted to be a chef or an actress, she started her collegiate career studying law at the University of Illinois.

Alumni Spotlight: Reema Amin

Sometimes you end up on a different path from where you started. For Columbia College Chicago Journalism MA alum, Reema Amin, that was the case. Although Amin, 24, said she …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

Faculty Spotlight: Jackie Spinner

On assignment, Salalah, Oman, November 2010, on U.S. Fulbright. Photo Credit: Jackie Spinner

On assignment, Salalah, Oman, November 2010, on U.S. Fulbright. Photo Credit: Jackie Spinner

Most children get the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

But how many actually answer it correctly?

For Jackie Spinner, assistant professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago and working journalist, she was one of the few who did.

Faculty Spotlight: Jackie Spinner

Most children get the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But how many actually answer it correctly? For Jackie Spinner, assistant professor of journalism at …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605