Letters Home: Dan Oshinsky

Dan Oshinsky graduated from the Missouri School
of Journalism
in 2009 with a degree in convergence
journalism. He founded Stry in 2010 and is currently
a Reynolds Fellow.
The following letter was submitted March 6, 2012

Dear ONA,

You want advice? Yeah, I could dole out some of that. I could lecture on the value of networking. I could ramble on the virtues of listening.

Or I could just give you the advice you really need to hear:

Stop listening to me.

If you're reading this, you're a student at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, which means you've accidentally stumbled into one of most amazing places to do journalism in the entire world. You are surrounded by some of the smartest journalism people in the universe. You have opportunities beyond measure, and they exist within a three-block radius of Shakespeare's Pizza.

So you should stop reading this, because reading this won't do you any good. It won't get you a step closer to doing what you want to do with your life. It won't get you a step closer to getting the job you want.

Journalism students spend way too much time listening, and not nearly enough time building things and screwing things up.

So if you're still reading, this is me giving you permission to do whatever the hell you want. That's why you're here: To build awesome things. To try stuff that all of us in the real world will tell you is too stupid to try.

If you're still reading this, you're wasting time you can't afford to lose.

Your time at school will go very, very quickly. It will be over, and then you'll be out in the real world, and that will suck. Death, taxes, and graduation -- these things happen.

So do things right now.

You want to learn to code? You want to understand how to dig into a database? You want to blog? You want to connect with awesome journalism people? You want to create the world's largest repository for Instagram photos of Truman the Tiger?

Then do it. You have the time, and we can teach you the skills to get it done.

Whether or not you decide to do is up to you.

But I'll tell you this: This world is for those who show up and those who do. It doesn't matter what your first step is. It probably won't be right, or even close to perfect. But the first step is understanding that you have to take one.

I beg you, please: Don't leave Columbia with a degree and couple of clips. Leave here with great skills -- how to listen, how to build, how to lead, how to connect, how to put in the work. You'll use those skills every day of your life.

And when you start doing and building and you find yourself getting lost -- well, then you should start asking for our help. We alums want to help you break through walls.

But we can't really do much to help until you start doing stuff.

Right now: Put down the laptop. Close this tab.

Today, go find something you want to build, something you want to start, something you want to learn -- and go do it.

Stop listening. Start doing.

And when you need help, don't be afraid to ask.

Dan Oshinsky
BJ '09 Convergence
Founder, Stry
2011-12 Reynolds Fellow


Check out the rest of the Letters Home series

Editor's note: If you're a Mizzou journalism alum who would like to contribute to the Letters Home series, send us an email at onamizzou@gmail.com with your letter, your name, your sequence and graduation year, your current job and contact information.

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