I’m not in the journalism field, but my Chips Quinn internship and overall experience taught me valuable techniques that I still practice to this day, including staying the course and enhancing my communication skills.
In 2012, I was laid off from an administrative position. Seven months later, I was hired on contract to work for the public school system in Washington, D.C., doing more administrative work, and for even less money. I treated the job as if it were top level and did my duties to the best of my abilities for the next nine months. Then a full-time position opened at the agency, and I was offered the job, which paid more and included benefits.
My high spirits were not lost on the staff. It reminded me of being in the newsroom of The Observer-Dispatch in Utica, N.Y. I was an intern, but the staff trusted my ability to write and publish front-page news, and for that I was extremely grateful.
The biggest boost came in 2015, when the agency lost grant money and had to reduce its work force. I thought my time was up when my position was cut, but once again, the higher-ups saw my work ethic, knowledge and attention to detail (all qualities I honed while a Chips Quinn Scholar) and asked me to apply for a higher position. I got it and am now a coordinator.
To go from unemployment to a low-paying job to a high-level position in just three years was a lesson in perseverance, dedication and humility. Sometimes in life you will work your fingers to the bone for a goal, only to find that the answer is “no.” But don’t take it as a final answer; take it as a “not now,” or maybe “not this job, not city, not this state…” It is not the end. For many, it’s just the beginning. I credit the Chips Quinn Scholars program with helping to instill those values in me, and the staff at The Observer-Dispatch for their appreciation of my capabilities.
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