When I first filled out the staff reporter application for the Chronicle near the tail end of the Fall 2019 semester, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into or what I would be getting out of the experience.
I transferred to Columbia a year earlier with the hope of pursuing a journalism degree. While I had freelanced for a number of local music blogs during my first year at Columbia, I had no prior experience working at a fully-staffed publication. The idea was very daunting.
I experienced a hurricane of emotions during training week. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I was hired. I was overjoyed to work among many talented peers, but I was also scared—scared of meeting so many new people and scared of diving straight into the deep-end of the hectic pool that is the news industry.
Mostly, I was scared of the unknown.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar once said the hardest pressure on humanity is our difficulty to accept change. Throughout my life, I have definitely known this to be true—I have always sought comfort in a familiar routine defining my day-to-day existence.
But, my time at the Chronicle has been defined by change. At first, it was adjusting to weekly story pitches, balancing deadlines with school assignments and juggling multiple stories at once.
Then, when the pandemic took shape and we were all sent home for the rest of the semester in March, I had to adapt overnight to doing my job remotely from my bedroom.
The intimacy of roundtable staff meetings was replaced by Zoom. The chaos and camaraderie of an average day in the newsroom was replaced by countless quiet summer afternoons interviewing sources and writing stories from my bed. Walking over to an editor’s desk to ask for input on a story was replaced by communicating entirely over Slack.
However, what I have realized is that change is the new normal, and the growth that stemmed from that change has became the new normal as well.
I have spent the last year chasing down street musicians at CTA stations, interviewing Grammy winners and ruthlessly contacting school administrators, and these are all things I never imagined I would be doing when I walked into the doors of the newsroom for the first time.
In collaboration with the management team—who works ever so tirelessly and only gets a fraction of the credit they deserve—I have been able to hone my skills as a music writer, interviewing artists about their work and reviewing some incredible projects along the way.
With their guidance and suggestions, I have watched so many stories come to life in a way they wouldn’t have before when I was blogging just for myself.
Needless to say, even while doing my job remotely for most of the time that I have been employed at the Chronicle, there was never a dull moment as a member of this staff.
While I have gotten used to the “new normal” that has come with doing my job from my bedroom amid the pandemic, I never knew what challenges would come with an average week of work at the Chronicle.
I have no idea what lies ahead. To be honest, I am still not even sure if I see myself working in journalism long term. But spending the calendar year of 2020 as part of the Chronicle team has certainly been an experience that I will never forget.
And for that, I am forever grateful.