A look back: why we chose Columbia, and what we’ve learned along the way.

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It’s the final week of the program for my cohort in the Journalism M.A. program. It’s a strange feeling…it hasn’t fully hit me yet. But I can say that I got more out of this program than I even expected. I decided to come to Columbia for my Journalism M.A. after attending the fall Open House where I got to meet the ambassador, faculty and see the school. I never could put my finger on exactly why, but I just felt like it was the right fit for me. I felt like I belonged, and I was impressed by the curriculum.

I knew it would open doors for me, but I had no idea the extent to which that would happen. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I was able to intern at the Chicago Reader and WBEZ. I had the opportunity to do assistantships within the program, including report and write for AustinTalks, which was an unbelievable experience. Then, in October I was offered a job at a radio/smartphone app startup. Every single one of these opportunities is due to what I learned here and the connections I made. I am positive that I would have never had these experiences if it weren’t for my time in this program.

But, since you’ve all been hearing from me for the past year, I thought I’d ask some of the other students in the program what they’ve learned and what they’re doing next. Here’s a few of their answers.

Reema Amin: The graduate program at Columbia helped me focus on two things: get it quick, but get it right. My classmates and I were trained to get the full facts on a meaningful, public affairs story and expected to turn it around immediately. Those skills helped me land a job at the Chicago Sun-Times media wire, where I cover breaking news events.

Meaghan Archer: This program has reinforced my love for storytelling and taught me how important it is to tell untold stories.

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Andrea Watson: This program has really prepared me to be a journalist. The hands on experience we get week after week is invaluable. I’m confident enough to work in any news room thanks to our amazing instructors.

Whitney Helm: Upon completion, I’ll be still loving Justin Timberlake, dancing like no one is watching. Oh, and I’ll be Editor for Platte County Record Times in Wheatland, WY. (congrats Whitney!!)

Yvette Cruz: Although the Journalism M.A. program at Columbia tested me in many ways, in it I discovered a passion for multimedia storytelling that I wouldn’t trade for anything–not even all the hours of sleep I didn’t get. I also met some incredibly amazing journalists that I get to graduate with and call my friends.

And me? I’m actually moving to Minneapolis in a few weeks. I don’t have a job there yet, which is terrifying. But I’m taking a leap of faith to move to a city I’ve always been fascinated by. The media’s coverage of the refugee community there is outstanding, so I’ll be trying to get my foot in the door to do the kind of reporting I’ve always dreamed about–that this program has prepared me for.