Farewell from the outgoing editor

1 June 2012

Written by: Olivia Wicik

As the months have gone by since I took on the role as editor of upstart, I have thought about what it is I brought to this magazine. I have hoped, of course, to bring you journalism that is informative, educational and entertaining. But, as a personal goal, I have also hoped to get to know the editorial team and to help them be the best that they can be, in turn giving our readers the best we have to offer.

Like any other new job, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into on the first day. I have tried my best to remain calm when I was frustrated, work through tight deadlines, step up when it was needed, and offer the best advice I could. In return, each and every one in the upstart team have put their best foot forward and picked up the slack whenever it was needed. Now, at the end of our semester, I can leave feeling proud that our team has overcome conflicts and broken records (most views in one day in upstart‘s history!). Most importantly, we’ve become a wonderful, close group of friends.

Those of us who have chosen to pursue a career in journalism don’t do it for the fame or the glory and definitely not for the money; we do it because we are passionate. It’s been said, ‘if you love what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life.’ The first time I heard that phrase, my thoughts and ideas about having a ‘career’ changed.

Writing is a way to express yourself, in a way that not everyone is capable of. You can portray your thoughts and feelings, articulating them in a way that makes people feel something inside of themselves that they may not have felt before. You have the ability to bring about new thoughts and ideas, and maybe on the rare, lucky occasion, you can even change someone’s outlook. We chose to be writers and report the news and educate others because it’s our way of adding some dignity to this world that we live in.

Journalism isn’t easy. There have been many days and nights that I stayed up frustrated because I just haven’t had that ‘spark’ that I needed to write a piece, and if you are a writer, I’m sure you have felt that way before too. But, it’s also one of the most gratifying feelings in the world when all of the gathering of information, interviewing, and research has paid off and you are able to put every thought you had into a coherent piece, that others may enjoy.

As an aspiring journalist, I firmly believe that we not only need to enjoy writing but we need to enjoy being flexible. Journalism is all about finding stories in the most unusual places. Throughout my studies I have met a number of well-known writers from various publications, but one interview sticks out particularly in my mind.It was with a well-known sports writer for a local paper back on Long Island in New York.

I asked him what the ‘most memorable and enjoyable piece he had ever written’ was about. Knowing very well that his interests primarily revolved around sports, I was expecting him to tell me about the time he interviewed an All Star or the quarterback from his favorite NFL team.

To my surprise, he said it was when he was first starting out as a journalist and the publication he was working for made him report on various events in his hometown. He was asked to shadow a fisherman on his boat and to make a story out of it. The reporter hated fishing and didn’t even like boats very much. But he did it, and he said that was one the most interesting men he had ever met in his life and he wouldn’t trade that interview for anything.

That short story opened my eyes. It made me see that by turning down opportunities because they weren’t what I thought was my ‘ideal’ story, or not taking certain chances because I was more comfortable in the safety of my current environment, meant that I might miss out on the best conversation I could possibly ever have.

It is here in Australia that I am writing this and I have never been happier in my life. The experiences a person goes through when living abroad in a country they have never been to before, are remarkable. You learn to trust yourself fully and listen to your judgments and intuition much more than you may have in the comfort of your hometown, where there is always a crutch to lean on. You meet people from all over the world, who are just as excited and happy to be here as you are. And you learn that every person has their own story to tell and if you listen closely, maybe they’ll tell you theirs.

Journalism is a way of life; you take it with you wherever you go. When we decided we wanted to be reporters we signed an unwritten agreement that we wouldn’t be working from 9-5 and closing the door to our offices at the end of our day. Sometimes we would have to get up at 3 am, sometimes we would have to take unexpected trips to random places, but all of the time we would be doing something that brings out the best in us.

We are fortunate enough to know that throughout our careers we will meet interesting and amusing people, and every once in a while have conversations that will surprise us in a great way. Sometimes we will meet people we aren’t exactly fond of and have to smile and shake their hands anyway. That ‘deadline’ will never be something that doesn’t bring about some sort of anxious feeling, but it also brings on a sort of excitement. We are not only making a portfolio for our next potential employers, we are making a portfolio of our lives, because all of these encounters make us who we are.

In a very short month I will be sitting on a plane again, going back to New York, alone, with two over-packed and much too heavy bags. I will be leaving with a ton more friends than I came here with and with experiences that have changed my life. I will also have a lighter and happier heart because my decision to step out of my box has meant that I had some of the best conversations I could have ever imagined to have.

Olivia Wicik is an international student from Long Island University in New York. She is currently studying journalism at La Trobe University and has been the editor of upstart this semester. You can follow her on twitter @oliviawicik