For some people, the smaller size of Northwestern can be a deal breaker, and I totally get that. It is a pretty small campus in a pretty small town and that can be a cause of concern for people looking for something a little bigger. But because Northwestern isn’t as large as other schools, it comes with a vast array of opportunities.
I had always wanted to write for a school paper, but my high school didn’t really have one. I was excited to pick up some journalism opportunities once I got to Northwestern, but I was worried that competition for writing and editing positions would be stiff.
I didn’t start writing for The Beacon until the second semester of my freshman year, after some helpful prodding from a few friends who were editors. The community and atmosphere at The Beacon was super open and welcoming. They loved having a new writer and were open to any and all story pitches I could bring to the table, despite the fact that I was only a freshman writer just starting. The competition that I was afraid of was nonexistent—everyone there was gracious about giving opportunities to everyone, whatever your interest may be in. There was room for everyone.
Through some persistent writing and attendance, I eventually snagged the job of writing the weekly movie reviews. Essentially, I could go see a movie—for free—once a week, and then get paid to write about what I thought of it. For someone who grew up on movie sand TV, this was a dream come true. Even though I had never written reviews before, the editors were super helpful in teaching me a few of the more specific standards, and I caught on pretty quickly.
Now, in my senior year, I am the editor of the arts and culture page, the same one that I started off writing for when I was a freshman. We meet twice a week every week, once with writers to plan an issue and pitch ideas, then another time to layout our pages. Oh, and every week at layout we get free pizza from Pizza Ranch as a trade for ad space—a pretty fair one I would say.
My time on The Beacon has taught me how to write more succinctly, how to search for stories anywhere and, most importantly, how to use InDesign, a very marketable skill. The time spent with the staff is always a highlight of my week. So if you find yourself like me, interested in an opportunity but afraid to take a chance on it, just dive in. The worst you could do is fail, and then you’ll have something to learn from.