In about 24 hours, I will be done with my fifth semester at the University of Kansas, and in about three weeks, I’ll be on a plane to Washington, D.C. for a four-month reporting internship at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. Last week, I saw my final story for the University Daily Kansan run on the front page.
I almost turned down the opportunity at the University Daily Kansan when I was offered the job in May. I’d heard it could be time-consuming, frustrating and difficult to deal with. It was all of those things. There were days I wanted to quit.
However, it was also rewarding, eye-opening and exciting. I covered campus sexual assault, a midterm election, a budget shortfall, a lawsuit between an official and a candidate, a suspected gunman and a potential bomb. If that’s not an exciting semester, I don’t know what is. The news staff reflected on the semester at end-of-the-year party, our editor-in-chief and our news editor told us how they tried to identify what the big topics of reporting would be. We all laughed because we knew those topics made themselves known very quickly.
The Huffington Post published an article about the University’s sexual assault policy in early September, and we covered that topic continuously until our last edition of the paper. Chasing such a weighty and important topic was a challenge. We were shut out by administration, but we knew our job was important. We knew people needed to talk about the issue, so we didn’t let it die, and it showed in our last piece.
I never knew I would love and hate a job so much, and I’m thankful every day that I took it. I was unsure whether or not I wanted to be a reporter, but now, I don’t know what else I would do. I’m diving in head first.
Because I started my journalism education in strategic communications, I have yet to hold a newspaper internship. I held a PR internship that taught me a surprising deal about news—because I worked for two newsies—but I hadn’t had a true news internship until now. I’m looking forward to my internship in Washington though it still doesn’t feel quite real. I thought my lack of experience would be detrimental, but I have a shot anyway.
As I look back on what ended up being the hardest, most exhausting, worst semester of my college career, I wouldn’t do a thing differently. Well, maybe I’d study for that econ test a little more, but I know the Kansan was the right choice, and I know I’ll carry the lessons I learned for the rest of my life.