First of all, I hope everyone has had a fantastic summer. It feels great to be back blogging. I remember roughly one year ago, I was the one nervously scrolling through the blogs of second-year CreComm students soaking up all of the advice I could. So naturally, I figured it was my duty to write a similar post for all the new students coming in.
Obviously, some of this may be hard to relate to because of your unfamiliarity with the program. As you advance through it, these tips may start to resonate a little bit more. Still, I hope you all take some value from this while keeping in mind that everyone has a different approach to school. Here’s my best advice based on my experiences in first year:
Treat everybody with respect
Treat the start of CreComm as the start of your professional career. Make positive connections with both your instructors and your fellow classmates. You’ll very likely be asking some of your instructors for references soon enough. Try to establish a good reputation early on.
Have a positive attitude
There’s nothing, at least in my opinion, that will take you further in CreComm than a positive attitude. Pessimistic people don’t last. Exude positivity every day, and try to bring out positivity in your classmates. You’ll get challenged by instructors, you’ll do poorly on some assignments, and you’ll receive constructive criticism. Never take it personally and keep your head up. If you have a positive attitude, people will gravitate toward you. Stay away from the negative people.
You’re going to make friends for life in this program. And it really is as fun as everyone says it is. It’s an absolute blast. But, never lose sight of the fact that you’re competing with each and every person there with you. You’ll help others when they need it, and you’ll get help from them when you need it. The support system is key in CreComm. You’re all in this together, absolutely, but always strive to be your personal best every day. You’re competing against your classmates for internships, awards, and jobs. Stand out. Do a little bit extra. Be the last one out of the room sometimes.
Get involved with everything
There are so many opportunities to get involved with things that are additional to all your classes. Take advantage of them. Start your own show or podcast at the radio station, read the news or sports in the morning, write and get involved with The Projector. Say yes to everything. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. In the back of your mind, always be thinking ahead to when you graduate and beyond. Use CreComm to build your resume.
Pick the brains of your instructors. All of them have experience in the industry. They know people in the industry. That’s so valuable. You have full access to them so take advantage of it.
Stay level headed
There’s a lot of ups and downs in this program. I remember early in second semester, I did really well on three straight assignments, and my best friend in the program started pumping my tires and said something along the lines of “Man you’re tearing it up right now.” I let it get to my head a little bit and became overconfident. Sure enough, I got a D on my next assignment. I was shocked and a little upset, but I used it as motivation toward staying level headed from then on. Don’t get too high when you do well, and don’t get too low when you do poorly. Easier said than done for sure. Also, if you do poorly on an assignment, always take the time to discuss it with your instructor. Take responsibility for your own learning.
Stay calm under pressure
You’ll be thrown into pressure situations, especially early on and particularly in journalism class. You’ll have a pending deadline and things will get hectic when the clock is ticking. The key is to stay calm and understand that you have plenty of time to get the assignment done. And enjoy the chaos because you won’t experience it to the same degree outside of journalism class, in my opinion.
Okay now for some practical advice. An auto-fail is when you misspell a proper name and automatically fail an assignment as a result. Everyone will tell you that they happen to everyone and are inevitable. This just isn’t true and I’m tired of hearing it. I had one auto-fail all year—it was in the second week of classes on my first advertising assignment. I’m still a little pissed about it to be honest. Furthermore, I could point to a handful of students in our year who had zero auto-fails. My point here is to proofread everything. If you have a journalism assignment due at the end of class, leave yourself five minutes to read it over. Then read it over again. Look up something if you’re not sure. Never, ever guess. If you do your due diligence with every assignment, there’s no reason why you can’t avoid auto-fails every single time.
Don’t make CreComm bigger than it is
This might be the most important thing in this post. By now, everyone has probably told you how difficult the program is. And I agree to an extent. It’s a very challenging program that tests your mental toughness and internal stamina. But, and I might get some flak for writing this, I think the aura that surrounds CreComm—in terms of how hard the program is—is a little bit overblown. My approach was to treat it as school. Because really, that’s all it is. It’s school, and I’ve been going to school for a long time. Be punctual, have a strong work ethic, and let the rest take care of itself. There’s no magic formula for success. Keep doing what you did to get here.
I just want to conclude by saying that I’ve never been so excited for a year of school in my life. I worked at 680 CJOB this past summer, and while I really enjoyed it and got great experience, once you’re in the industry you realize how fun CreComm is and how good we have it. I think we’ll all be hard-pressed to find a job that’s as enjoyable as the program is. I mean that sincerely. Enjoy the ride. It goes by quick. Too quick.