|Lauren Mickler is a news/sports reporter at KEZI 9|
in Eugene, Ore. She graduated from the Missouri
School of Journalism in 2010 with a degree in
Dear Young Tigers,
There are so many things about life that you have to experience yourself to really understand, things you can only learn by making a few mistakes, and lessons that will only be valuable once you look back on them. But there are some things in life that you learn by example. Some stuff you’ll get right the first time without screwing something up first. I’m here to save you some time -- and trouble -- by sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
My journalism training started long before Mizzou. To make a long story short, my parents met working at a TV station in the late 70s and both ended their careers still working in journalism. My mom spent 25 years as a columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune, and my dad finished 35 years in the business as the Director of Operations for the NBC O&O in San Diego. So, a lot of my education came from them and their friends. My parents worked late, they were stressed a lot, we had to give up swim meets and family trips because they just didn’t have a lot of free time outside of work. That was just the tip of the iceberg.
I guess the first lesson I want to pass on to you is the “tough stuff” about this profession. No matter what sequence you’re in, there are more sacrifices in this line of work than almost any other, and if you want to succeed, you have to get that into your head and be comfortable with it. I know you’ve heard it before, but get really cozy with the idea of terrible hours, terrible pay, hard manual labor, and very little recognition for all that work. Keep in mind, most of your friends will be working corporate or other stable jobs, working normal hours.
This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with since graduation. The schedule and ‘sacrifices’ were easy in college, I wanted little to do with my family, and I was surrounded by a motivational, talented group of people who inspired me. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t too much like KOMU or the Missourian. People just don’t have time to care as much. So I would say, try as hard as you can to get a job straight out of college, keep the mindset you have now and let that motivation push you through. That drive you have that feels endless could fade if you let it, so do what you need to do to keep that fire lit. Keep yourself inspired and continue to love journalism because that’s what’s going to get you through the overnight shifts on Thanksgiving, or the void you feel when you celebrate your birthday alone.
Even though I’ve already rambled on, I want to throw a couple more things your way:
First, do station, newsroom, company visits to anywhere you might want to work. My parents made me a lot of valuable connections, but if I didn’t make the effort to stay in touch with them, I’m just as good as any resume tape on their desk. Make connections and keep those connections. Even in this digital world, make sure you send thank you notes. Make them remember you.
Second, Don’t get an attitude. We have a lot of egotistical people in our business and it’s your job not to be one of them. Don’t toot your ‘Mizzou’ horn, let your degree and expertise do it for you and listen to the veterans.
Third, and last, toughen up. Maybe you think you’re already tough, but I can tell you, I thought so too, and I was wrong. I had my whole childhood to take it all in but I was still caught off guard with how hard this career can be. It’s grueling -- emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically. When people ask me why I do it, I explain that I sometimes come home frustrated and emotional, but every morning I wake up and I can’t wait to go back to work -- because this is the best profession in the world.
Please, feel free to shoot me an email. I’d love to help in any way that I can, that’s what the Mizzou Mafia’s about, right?
BJ '10 Broadcast
Sports/news reporter at KEZI 9 in Eugene, Ore.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your letter, your name, your sequence and graduation year, your current job and contact information.