#CareerPlan – I gave up being a full-time bride to becoming a journalist

If most kids wanted when they were young to become doctors, astronauts or even president, I was an exception. I have always wanted to become a bride. No, not just getting married. Doing it as a job. Every. Single. Day.  Now, when I remember this, I find it funny (and ridiculous), but who would have thought that behind the mind of a five-year-old is hiding so much truth? All those stories about the perfect wedding dress, the perfect setting or the perfect kiss, were not in vain. In fact, they made me realise further on how much I like creating different scenarios and writing.

Of course, if you ask me now about marriage, I might have slightly changed my mind, but that’s another story.

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Years passed by and I abandoned the idea of being a bride.  Higher standards from life, I assume. At 15, curiosity pushed me to join the high school magazine. Soon after, I became the coordinator of its Public Relations & Communication department and later, the editor in chief. I discovered that I like meeting people, talking to them, creating partnerships and providing ideas, all of these without affecting my appetite for writing.

My passion for journalism increased once I met Cristian Lupșa, the founder and editor of Decât o Revistă (DoR), a quarterly magazine based on the idea that good nonfiction storytelling can change people and communities. Cristian started DoR after he came back from the US, where he earned an MA in Journalism from the University of Missouri- Columbia and since 2011, he is hosting an international storytelling conference in Bucharest. He was the one who inspired me to believe that it doesn’t matter about what I am writing, as long as I can make it interesting. His writing style is focused on emotions; he builds characters in such a way they cannot be forgotten and provides insight to the deepest and hidden corners of the human mind. I figured  this out when I read the investigation regarding the fireworks accident in Colectiv club from October 2015 that killed more than 60 young people (the event was also spread in the UK press, media outlets like The Guardian, BBC News, The Telegraph or The Independent writing about it) that Cristian and his team conducted.

I cannot read DoR (just) online, I must admit. It doesn’t feel right. DoR is the type of magazine designed as a book that you want to have it next to you to read as a bedtime story. With stories which give you goose bumps and make you want to touch and smell the papers. There are a few media outlets in Romania which are producing ‘real journalism’ and DoR is definitely one of them. I suppose gratified is the word. If given the opportunity, I would be gratified to work for DoR.

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That brings me to the present point, where I am being asked to provide a whole career plan and explain what kind of journalist I would like to become. After three months of uni and a few years of reading newspapers and online publications. If someone had asked me before starting uni exactly the same question, I would have said without hesitating that I would like to be an investigative journalist. I haven’t changed my mind yet, or at least, not completely. Now I dare to take a step back and breathe. I want to discover at first if it really suits me.

If I were to identify to one of the four types of journalists that Matt Thompson suggests, I would definitely be the storyteller. It is in my second nature to tell stories. Because they are everywhere and everyone has one. In the end, what are we without stories?

I am also curious. Incredibly curious. And easily bored – my excuse in facing the truth and admitting that I am bipolar.

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I am not looking forward to the 9 to 5 daily routine, I am looking for adventure, discovering facts, travel, interviewing people, permanent learning and personal development.

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Besides this 30 seconds fantasy of ‘making the world a better place through quality journalism’, I come back with my feet on the ground and I realise I am not sure if I could be a freelancer. I need somehow discipline that I know I can only achieve if I am in an office regularly. The compromise would be to open my own journalistic operation after a few years of blogging and getting experience writing features, columns or interviews for various publications.  Maybe because I enjoyed working four years at my high school magazine. Maybe because I read the award-winning Swedish crime novels by Stieg Larsson, the Millenium trilogy, and I found them life-changing.

My plan goes like this:

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As my guru and role model in life said (I can’t help but get excited every time I am talking or writing about Stephen King), I need to read a lot.

This year, I subscribed to The Spectator and Private Eye and soon I will do the same with The Sunday Times. Going to the reception and asking for my magazines is like Christmas coming earlier and more than once a year.  And I am planning to keep my media diet under control. Reading, listening and watching as much as possible.  Since I started uni I have already downloaded apps like BBC News, The Guardian, The Independent and even The Daily Mail, as well as BBC iPlayer Radio. My passion for foreign languages proves to match perfectly for a journalist, this is why I am looking forward to improving my skills in French and German while reading well-known publications such as Le Figaro and Der Spiegel. At the same time, I will have the opportunity to analyse the ways a news story is written in different countries, as I did for the media monitoring assessment. Regarding the US mass-media, I will follow more in depth  The New York Times and The New Yorker, especially because of one contributor that I admire, a Pulitzer prize winner for best feature writing, Kathryn Schulz.

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Student life in halls comes without TV, therefore I can only say that I intend to watch some day Al Jazeera, Sky News, BBC World and CNN.

Earlier this semester, one of my teachers convinced me why to join Twitter and now, that I got the chance to explore a bit this social network, I came up with my list of journalists worth following:

 I mentioned earlier in this piece that I would like blogging as a job. For getting accustomed to the style and way of blogging properly, I chose several examples of successful and interesting blogs to guide me:

For the second semester of the first year, I had to choose an optional and I felt the ‘journalistic options’ didn’t satisfy fully my needs. I tried once again to make my life harder than already is with uni, two jobs and accommodating in a foreign country, and opted for another challenge, as I like to call it: creating and managing an online presence.

To be just an ordinary graduate with a major in Journalism is not outstanding for the market. You need to come with something more than writing nice features. For instance, some knowledge in search engine optimisation (SEO), security issues, and social media integration wouldn’t harm anyone. Hopefully, not even to my stress level, which is above the average, according to  S Health app on my smartphone.

Remember my little fantasy with travelling around the world? Let’s start with baby steps. Next year, if I am successful, I intend to study abroad in the US at University of Missouri for the second semester, whilst in the first semester, I will opt for Multimedia Storytelling& the Media. I guess there is no need of argumentation for my choice (hint: ‘storytelling’).

Finally, in the third year, I am looking forward to writing the extended essay and studying ‘Transforming audiences’ and ‘Specialist Journalist- Data & Investigative’. I can’t stay away from this thingie that I have for detectives, investigations and my relentless curiosity. Maybe when I will discover that is not everything like in Agatha Christie’s novels, I will have another approach, but until then, there is plenty of time to dream.

And if I mentioned about dreams, these are some positions that I would like to take after I graduate:

Senior Broadcast Journalist (Producer-Director Investigations) for BBC News – I can’t believe there are any journalism students who have never taken into account the possibility of working for such a prestigious, giant company. Not everyone might be suited for the BBC, but the BBC is suited for everyone.

Journalism traineeship for Deutsche Welle –  An internship in Berlin with training and workshops provided by the DW staff on TV moderation, multimedia storytelling, data journalism, social media and virtual reality. What else could you ask from life as an entry-level journalist?

Community and Social Media Journalist for The Times & The Sunday Times – Mastering social networks. Learning how to engage the audience. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube behind the scenes. Not that bad, isn’t it?

Graduate Features Journalist for the Telegraph – Did someone say ‘feature’?

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Pretty much, that’s it. I am not hiding the truth. It requires hell a lot of work, resilience and passion. But anyway, still better than a full-time bride, right?

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