Everyone has it together but me

graduation-dogA fog. That’s what the future looked like to me in the months leading up to my college graduation. 

I have always tried to think one step ahead and am constantly planning my next adventure. During the summers was when I’d prepare for the spring semester—why? Because I’m a planner. I despise discovering that I’ve missed out on an opportunity simply because I didn’t know about it soon enough. One of my professors used to say, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” So I started feeling beside myself senior year when I couldn’t create a set plan post-graduation; I was having trouble envisioning my next step. I had always assumed that by senior year my burning passion for a certain industry would lead the way. Instead, I was more confused than ever before.

I kept creating deadlines for myself like, “Cathryn, if you don’t have a job by March, you’re going to need to start panicking.” Yet when March came and went I realized I was no closer to figuring out where I wanted to go and how I was going to reach my career goals. I felt stuck. The thing I love most in life is adventure. While everyone praised me for going out there and trying new things in college, as soon as I walked across the stage, it seemed as if those quests would suddenly become unprofessional. Jumping around from one adventure to another isn’t any way to live an accomplished life, said hiring experts in the articles I read on LinkedIn. Yet that’s what makes me happy: learning from different job experiences and taking on different roles. I started to see that in the real world experimenting is all good and fun until graduation. While in college it made me “ambitious,” a “go-getter,” or “career-minded,” after graduation it suddenly meant I was “wishy-washy” and “lacked focus.” Apparently I was supposed to have everything figured out by May 17th 2014 because by the 18th, it was time to buckle down.

This made me feel sad and discouraged. It seemed as though I was going to have to sacrifice happiness for the sake of professionalism.

Then there came the pressure, oh the societal pressure. “What’s next?” “Have a job yet?” “Where are you living?” “Shouldn’t you go to grad school now because otherwise you’ll never go back?” “Have you tried networking?” (side eye) “Any leads?” I knew it was coming, but the bombardment of questions still felt so unfair. Couldn’t I be at peace in my post-grad journey? People had never been so curious about my life before. I had been so open about my previous internship experiences that I felt as though everyone was expecting a lot from me (which of course, wasn’t necessarily true because people were rightfully much more concerned with their own lives). “You don’t even need to worry about getting the job you want, you’ll be fine,” some people said. While flattering, it didn’t really make me feel much better considering there I was, worrying about getting a job that I wouldn’t hate.

Okay so here’s my turning point: realizing that I’m not alone. In fact, many successful people felt this exact same way —the key is to not let it get you stuck in a rut. My mom bought me the book, “I Just Graduated…Now What?” by Katherine Schwarzenegger, which has helped me realize that this sense of confusion is not a foreshadowing of everlasting failure. After studying in Prague for five weeks I came home and decided that I was going to take the rest of the summer to pause. Thankfully, my parents were very supportive of this. I believe we live in a society that over-glorifies the idea of busyness, so it takes deliberate effort to slow down and think things through. I had been so focused on hitting all of life’s milestones at the “right time” that I wasn’t listening to myself. Other people had been encouraging me to follow their suggested career paths–the up-and-coming industries, the jobs that would make me more money, or the industry where my talents would be best suited–and while I appreciated all of the advice (in fact, I had asked for it) I was forgetting to ask myself what I wanted as well.

Since returning home I have physically written down what I do and don’t want in a job as well as in a career, which has helped clarify my goals. My time has also been spent getting back in shape and into a healthier lifestyle, volunteering around the city, reading—lots and lots of reading, and spending time with my family. I’ve been told over and over that once your career picks up, the time you get with your parents and siblings is scarce. While it’s definitely worthy of applaud, landing a job right out of college is hardly a fair determinant of whether someone has his or her life together or not. Untraditional paths lead to untraditional and extraordinary lives and that’s exactly the kind of life I want to live. So it turns out I’m right where I need to be.

On Saturday I’m moving to Washington D.C. for a new opportunity. I’d be lying if I said that the future still doesn’t look foggy. I can’t conclude this chapter in my life and announce today that I’ve figured everything out but I do feel that my confidence in myself is back. The story of “Who Cathryn will Become” is so far from being finished but I feel motivated to write down what I have so far.

If you’re a recent graduate or are embarking on another one of life’s transitions, you may feel like everyone BUT you has it together, but you’re not alone. And sometimes being aware of that makes all of the difference. That girl who blogs all the career advice? Yep, she’s in the same boat too. ; )

– Cathryn

"If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough."

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

 

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What’s Next? The Future

My internship in Washington D.C. has wrapped up and I am currently back in Texas. I’m very proud of the work I did this semester so if you have time please visit my SHFWire profile to see all that I’ve been working on! I visited Atlanta before returning to reconnect with family and I’m most recently returning from the beautiful state of Colorado. I’m so glad I’m able to take some time to travel before heading into the “real” world.

In an effort to further procrastinate my last college assignment, I’ll talk about the past rather than the future! One last time I will look back on this semester and the lessons I learned through my program in Washington.

Taking a stroll through the sculpture garden with Spongebob.

Taking a stroll through the sculpture garden with Spongebob.

  1. Every rejection and every acceptance happens for a reason. So for now, laugh at the confusion and worry a little less because one day looking back, it will all make sense.
  2. Politics is more than a bunch of old men in suits pointing their fingers.
  3. Different isn’t worse. It seems like common knowledge but this concept is really difficult to remember when put in an environment that is nothing like what you’re used to.
  4. Texas weather is amazing. Texans always complain about how “bipolar” the weather gets but in reality it never gets that cold or that windy or that ugly outside. And if it ever does the entire state shuts down. It’s great and we’re all spoiled brats.
  5. In Washington, it’s always a better decision to dress up rather than down.
  6. Take chances. Once-in-lifetime opportunities don’t typically roll around twice—hence the name.
  7. Humility is oh so rare but oh so attractive.
  8. There are no Chick-fil-A’s in Washington, sadly.
  9. “The most interesting man alive” is probably sitting right next to you. Celebrities and world-renown people are not the coolest people on the planet, amazing people are all around you.
  10. When you make true friends, you’ll know.
  11. Hindsight makes things look better than they actually ever were.
  12. It’ll make you feel better to look forward rather than focus on the past.

For years everyone has spoken about that point in time that’s considered “the Future.” It always seemed like an unobtainable moment in time. But “the Future” is here and I feel ill-prepared. Yet with the lessons learned in Washington I think I can be patient for the right opportunities that await me. I think.

Here are a few last pictures of my spring semester in Washington and time in Atlanta, Vail and Colorado Springs. Catch back up with me next month as a start a new blog recording my travels in Prague, Czech Republic! I’m stoked!

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung

Spending time outside with the budding cherry blossoms.

Spending time outside with the budding cherry blossoms.

A beautiful view of Washington from the Arlington Cemetery.

A beautiful view of Washington from the Arlington Cemetery.

Taking a trip to NPR studios.

Taking a trip to NPR studios.

Selfie fever

Selfie fever

Visiting CNN in Atlanta.

Visiting CNN in Atlanta.

Some of my Atlanta cousins!

Some of my Atlanta cousins!

Finally getting to spend time with my parents!

Finally getting to spend time with my parents!

Skiing in the Rockies

Skiing in the Rockies

Enjoying the view at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. So majestic!

Enjoying the view at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. So majestic!

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Hiking

A Few of My Favorite Things

It’s officially spring but Washington has not yet received the memo because it snowed today. I’m hoping to experience some pretty weather before I leave so I can see the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom!

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Another snowy day filming at the National Cathedral.

I truly believe that feeling inspired is the best feeling out there. It keeps us working toward our dreams and maintaining faith in humanity.

During my time in Washington I have had the privilege of reporting on high profile events at some of the most historically significant landmarks in the U.S. With the two weeks I have remaining of my internship, I have been reflecting on the projects and stories I have worked on and how inspired I’ve become to always continue learning.  I have finished every story feeling differently about an issue or more enlightened, there are a few that really standout. Here are a few of my favorite assignments and why:

Promise Zones. This was an awesome experience not only because it was my first trip to the White House, but also because I was in the first week of my internship and this was my first story assignment. It was as if the universe was telling me, “Welcome to Washington, yes, you’re really here.” President Barack Obama announced the creation of Promise Zones in five U.S. cities, one being San Antonio, which is where I attended high school. It was great to hear about changes happening in my city. “Promise Zones” is an initiative to improve living and economic conditions by partnering with communities and businesses. The five cities will receive federal money and tax credits and swift assistance with federal grant applications.

In the pressroom I met a group of the photographers and reporters. The first photographer I met is an alumnus from UT Austin! They all gave me similar advice: Don’t doubt yourself. They assured me that I was already on the path to becoming a successful journalist. Reporting in the East Room was a valuable learning experience as well – in fact I think it counted as my workout for the day. I was doing a great deal of squatting, standing on my tip-toes and lunging to get good photos and stay out of other photographers’ way. Despite the nerves I had going in, that day meant a lot to me and I definitely tried to take it all in.

The effects of solitary confinement. I’ve been to quite a few hearings since I’ve been in Washington and this one definitely stuck out as very impacting because it showed just how injustices can be looked over for decades. Testifying was Damon Thibodeaux, a man who was placed in solitary confinement 23 hours a day for 15 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He spoke on how dangerous it was that he never received any therapy before or after he was released back into the public. He said solitary confinement does not rehabilitate prisoners, but does the opposite. He saw men lose their minds from a lack of mental stimulation.

Another person who testified was Piper Kerman, the author of Orange is the New Black, which is a book and now Netflix show based on her experience in an all-women’s prison. She gave the women’s perspective of how prison guards abused their power over them. I had seen the first season Orange is the New Black before the hearing but I had no idea it was based on a true story. Ms. Kerman was a great speaker and is a wonderful example of a woman who is taking a stand to help others, despite a bad circumstance. If you haven’t seen the show already, get to it!

51e9a193005c7.preview-620 ~ Snow competition in Dupont. This was my first light-hearted story of the semester and ya’ll, I cannot express to you how much I did not want to cover it. A snowstorm hit Washington the night before and while the rest of the city got the day off of work because of the 8.6 inches accumulated on the ground, I still had to report in. I’ll add that it was also raining and sleeting that day. “Lucky” me, I was assigned to cover the outdoor snow sculpture contest in the treacherous weather. So trekked out to Dupont Circle with my camera equipment, layers of clothing, hand warmers and rain gear into the deserted and snowy streets.

I expected to see a crowd of children at site but the real participants of the contest were adults. They were outside on their day off decorating snowmen in tutus, bikinis, fedoras, political signs and more. I found it difficult to keep up my humbug attitude with all of the light-hearted fun. Even though I was balancing keeping the camera equipment dry and trying to prevent my own body from freezing, the positive energy from the participants helped make a cold situation warmer. Reporting on this story taught me how important it is to smile and be a kid every once in a while and see the silver lining in a cold situation.

Snobama

Snobama

Target and Neiman Marcus data breach hearing. Over the years I’ve had a growing fascination in computer science as well as its effects and the future of technology. both Target and Neiman Marcus were attacked by a major data breach at the end of last year and in the beginning of this year. This hearing really showcased how ever-changing our world is and why there’s no long-term solution to prevent data breach —yet. The CEOs of Target and Neiman Marcus came to testify in support of an updated card payment system that would better protect customer information. Although the U.S. has outdated security systems in retail stores, once the systems are updated, it will be just a matter of time until cyber hackers figure out how to jump over those new barriers. It has happened and continues to happen. The issue of cyber security is a hot topic and there’s something about there being “no solution in sight” that makes it an appealing issue to me.

CEO of Target

CEO of Target

I feel very lucky for this opportunity to learn first-hand about real issues that impact this country. Looking forward to more inspirational lessons in the weeks to come!

Reconnecting with fellow Longhorns!

Reconnecting with fellow Longhorns!

Hiking at Rock Creek park.

Hiking at Rock Creek park.

On the office balcony.

On the office balcony.

On the side of the White House.

On the side of the White House.

By the warm fire.

By the warm fire.

Mexican and Bolivian food!

Mexican and Bolivian food!

 

 

Tips worth sharing

After two weeks traveling back and forth between New York and Washington, I think I’ve adjusted to an even faster-paced lifestyle.

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Before I left to NYC I headed back to the White House press gallery.

“Networking” was the key word these past two weeks when I headed to New York for a career workshop hosted by the International Radio and Television Society Foundation and the Spring National College Media Convention hosted by the College Media Association.

I had the opportunity to meet with other aspiring media professionals and human resource managers from major media companies, including NBCUniversal, Viacom, AOL, Univision and many more. It’s always great returning to a city that holds the headquarters of so many media entities.

I was given a lot of advice during my time in the city and the most notable tips I received at the workshop and convention are:

  • Set goals. Set goals for one year, five years, ten years, and 25 years down the road. They can change but it’s critical to have something to look forward to. My one-year goal is to be working in a job that will allow me to improve my public speaking skills. In five years I hope to be back in school pursuing a higher degree. And overall I hope to give back even more of what has already been given to me.
  • Always know who your boss is. Especially in the world of media, the lines can be blurred concerning who is who. Seems like common sense but it’s important to know who the person evaluating your performance is.
  • Generate ideas and become a problem solver. It’s not enough to be a critical thinker in the workplace. It’s more important to create solutions.
  • Focus on your strengths but know your weaknesses. Your strengths will carry through in multiple industries and jobs so figure out what they are and how you can optimize your skills to make yourself even more valuable. It’s also important to know your weaknesses so you can figure out where to improve to get to the position you want. I’m constantly working on my public speaking because I want to be a spokesperson of some sort. 
  • Success isn’t instantaneous. It takes hard work and experience.
  • Have a sense of urgency. College, especially senior year, is grounds for procrastination. My motto used to be, “As long as it gets done…” but that really won’t fly anymore. I’ve learned that those who do things with urgency get ahead.
  • Dress and act professional. Another seemingly obvious rule but a speaker told me about an intern who came into the office in their club clothes on casual Friday…apparently she wanted to go out immediately after work and didn’t feel like going home to change. I’ve interned as some of the most casual offices as well as very formal offices and it’s better to be safe than sorry. I think it’s safe to say flip-flops, daisy dukes, dirty clothes and anything with cutouts are not acceptable for the work environment.
  • Use LinkedIn. Linkedin is a social media tool that numerous employers say they initially visit to determine potential hires. So set your account up and make sure it’s updated!
  • Don’t be stupid on social media. Twitter is the social media platform that gets the most potential employees in trouble. Private or not, what you post on your account is permanent and can be found. Employers provided numerous examples of potential hires who missed their opportunity at a job or internship because their unprofessional tweets demonstrated poor judgment.
  • Ask for feedback. It can only help. Whether it’s at the end of a big project, end of the week, or after an interview, ask. It shows your interest in room for growth and a willingness to learn.
  • Be your own brand manager. There are enough resources online that allow you to design your own brand and measure your own analytics.
  • Be enthusiastic; you never know who’s watching. I admit, I sometimes wear my exhaustion on my face but I’m learning that when you act more energetic, you feel more energetic. Energetic and enthusiastic people are the ones people want to keep around.
  • Never fall asleep. Too many employers gave examples of interns who fell asleep on the job and never recovered their reputation. Get enough rest!
  • Keep in touch with the people you network with. But that doesn’t mean annoy prospective employers.

Conferences and workshops like these make me appreciate those who are willing to use their time to help aspiring media professionals. It’s a tough industry, and I feel fortunate to know that there are people rooting for me to succeed. It strengthens my desire to give back in a similar way.

Thank you for the great memories, New York!

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Hopping off the bus into a backstreet of Times Square, I felt like I was arriving home!

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2013 Fellows reunited in Brooklyn!

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I loved being a part of the live audience for the Colbert Report. Maria Shriver was the guest!

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At the Multicultural Career Workshop!

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Rain check in Times Square

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Taking time to relax in Central Park.

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Serendipity has my heart and soul.

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Photoshoot on the Brooklyn pier.

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At the Queensboro Bridge.

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I went skiing one weekend, just like in the old days.

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Scripps Interns

Before you major in broadcast journalism…

I can’t believe my time here in Washington is almost half-way through! It’s a bit frightening because the city has really grown on me. This weekend was especially enjoyable because the city experienced the warmest weather since I’ve been here. It got up to 65 degrees!

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Enjoying the warm day in Georgetown after venturing to Theodore Roosevelt Island.

On another note, I have also experienced others coming to me with misconceptions about journalism. Someone asked me why I need a college degree to do something so “fun.” Majoring in broadcast journalism is at times fun but it’s also filled with long rides on the strugglebus. So before rushing to conclusions, here are some tips you should know before choosing to major in broadcast journalism OR judging a journalist:

1. This isn’t the easy route.

If you’re just trying to get out of taking rigorous classes, you’re in for a rude surprise. There’s a lot more to the journalism curriculum than meets the eye. It’s completely project-based so be prepared for time-consuming days out in the field, headaches in the editing lab caused from intensely staring at a screen for hours and strict deadlines. Oh and don’t forget to juggle all of your other classes too.

2.  Your schedule revolves around everyone else.

You will have limited say concerning when you can work on your story and how much time your project will take. Your work depends upon when your sources feel like getting back with you. It might be today, (rarely ever is) or next week, or never. A phone interview won’t do because you have to interview them face-to-face, captured on camera. Get ready for endless phone calls begging people to meet up with you. If suddenly they can’t make the interview, well, suddenly you don’t have a story. You can’t just go into the library, pull out your books and “do” a story like other students can just “do” their homework; you have to rely on others. If you like to plan things out to a tee this might make your hair fall out.

3. Being a student can be a setback

Don’t lie but if they don’t ask, don’t tell! If people think they’re speaking to an expert rather than a student then they will typically be more respectful. Otherwise they’ll think you’re doing some cute class project that’s not very important.

4. Say good riddance to sleep.

Get that last nap in because you’re going to be up all night either planning interviews, editing, writing scripts, or rethinking your entire career plan.

5. You can’t go to class in sweats.

In addition to being in a state of constant sleep deprivation you also have to roll into class looking TV-ready with flawless hair and make-up.  You know…just in case. You never know when you’ll have to be on-camera for a show, live-shot or stand-up. So you can’t look like the tired college student you are!

6. Your back will ache.

I kid-you-not when I say that broadcast journalism is the most physically-grueling major! I carried equipment twice my size (the cameras my school gave us were huge). It didn’t matter how heavy they were, I still had to carry them all of the time as if they were attached to my hip. My days were strategized around how I could lug dozens of pounds of equipment around campus and the city of Austin all day without breaking my back. It didn’t help that the parking available for UT students is located in the very back corner of Narnia. I gained some major biceps but it is probably the cause of my worsening scoliosis.

7. Prepare to listen to your voice over and over and over

If you’re like most people then listening to your own voice can be painful. “I don’t really sound like that, do I?” Yes, you do. And the first time you’ll ever record your voice for a story you are going to sound awful. It takes a while to find your acceptable reporter voice that doesn’t sound too monotone or overly exaggerated. In fact I’m still working on it.

I sound a bit negative but I promise it’s not all torturous! Yes, at times I frantically thought, “WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?” but here is also why broadcast journalism is the best major for me and could be the best for you:

1. I have become very comfortable talking to all types of people.

2. After intense editing sessions, I am now a much better writer.

3. Being on-camera all the time helped me understand how to better carry and present myself.

4. I like to say I can edit almost anything: video, audio, images, writing—you name it.

5. My professors made me become a one-man-band which means I pitched, reported, interviewed, filmed, and edited all of my stories with no help. It was intense and I had to become even more independent.

6. The circumstances above also forced me to become an excellent multitasker.

7. Interviewing has become second-nature. I know what I look for when I interview others so I have an understanding of what others are looking for from me. Interviewing is my favorite part of an application.

8. I am constantly challenged and inspired.

9. I cannot say that I am ever bored.

Broadcast journalism is such a rewarding field and I have gained so many transferrable skills. To everyone who sees me with all my equipment and says, “Oh how fun!” do not be fooled into thinking I’m playing cutesy “pretend to be a news anchor” games with my camera. There is a lot of rigorous work that goes on behind all the 2-minute projects. My fellow newscasters can understand!

Here are some pictures illustrating my week in Washington. I’m loving this experience more and more!

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Posing in front of the Capitol at the Newseum.

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Met the Dalai Lama this week

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The terminators ready to see our 3D show.

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A snow day never means a day off! Photographing a story in Dupont Circle.

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Met up with my grandmentor, Aryele. I hadn’t seen her since freshman year!

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Saw Ms. Michelle Obama last week!

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A candid moment with our walking sticks hiking on Theodore Roosevelt Island.

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This woman was actually skiing to work. Why? I don’t know.

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Out at Dupont!

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At the Anchorman exhibit

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Thin Mint and Mocha Caramel Milkshakes

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Shennanigans in Chinatown

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At the Navy Memorial