This weekend I took a trip to New York City to attend the College Media Association’s Spring National Media Convention. It was a blissful trip filled with self-discovery and hundreds of new faces amongst the sea of fellow college journalists. Although my trip was cut short due to the pending northeastern blizzard (some storm that was), I am so grateful for being able to attend such an amazing convention and for the chance to network with so many industry professionals.

Prior to the convention, I was unsure of what I wanted to do post-graduation. I had just come down from the orientation leader “high”  that I had been experiencing all summer and into the spring semester. Working with some of my closest friends for such a long period of time made me think that I might want to pursue something related to that field, but once the long summer nights filled with laughter turned into long nights filled with homework instead, I knew it wasn’t for me.

Flying down, I couldn’t help but think to myself “Do I really want to be a journalist?” I joined my school’s student publication my freshman year and was quickly voted senior arts editor and have been writing away ever since. Until this point I had thought of writing as a relaxing way to step away from the rest of my schoolwork and do what I enjoy; writing about music and cool spots around Buffalo. The concern of not making enough money or failing to find a job always proved to stand in the way of me realizing that writing is my true passion, even though I might not make as much money as friends that are engineers or pre-med students, I can’t let that stop me from doing what I love. I can confidently say that this trip has made me realize that I do want to follow my passion and become a professional journalist after college.

I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square bright and early Sunday morning. After checking into the convention I attended a slew of sessions ranging from covering events outside a college campus, steps to making stories more compelling, magazine writing and the list goes on and on. After writing concert reviews and artist profiles for the last year, I’ve become tunnel-visioned; I had never really thought about all the other possibilities for me besides newspapers or magazines. From freelance writing to post-grad fellowships, I learned about hundreds of other platforms that I could apply my skills to.

Sunday’s keynote speaker Mara Schiavocampo gave me great advice about approaching freelance work. The GMA anchor explained how to pitch ideas to publications, how to build a relationship with editors and how much to charge per article. There are so many local alt-publications in Buffalo that I had never even thought about writing for, but after learning so much about freelancing, even as a college student, I feel confident enough that I could put my skills to use in a bigger publication than my school’s paper.

Saturday was even better. I learned what it’s like to cover major music festivals from Emily Bloch, a fellow college student that’s written about Van’s Warped Tour, Sun Festival and tons of other big name musicians. I learned about ethical problems in the newsroom and what an embargo is, what long-form journalism is and how to tackle bigger stories, and why having a personal blog is so important for the future of my writing.

I used to be one of those people that hated the city. I would tell myself “It’s too big, there are too many people, it’s too expensive.” Well, I’m not the same person anymore. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I want to relocate to NYC and try my best to make it as a journalist. This conference helped me realize that there are endless possibilities that I can take advantage of as a college student to help push me towards my goal. I’m excited to keep writing and expanding my background as a writer so that I can hopefully one day make the big jump and make NYC my new home.

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