By Sarah Jones, spring intern for SPJ Region 3 and SPJ student member; she is a junior majoring in public relations from Francis Marion University
The band Journey once sang a song about “a small town girl living in a lonely world” and in this case, that small town girl is me. Except the world isn’t all that lonely; it’s filled with endless opportunities and stories to tell.
Lugoff, South Carolina, is not a town you vacation to or have probably ever heard of. It is a town with three stoplights that you won’t realize you passed through if you blink. It is a town that lives for Friday night lights and running into high school friends at the local Walmart. This is the town that built me.
I am currently a 22-year old junior at Francis Marion University studying to receive my bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in psychology.
Upon graduating high school, I imagined I would enter and exit college within four years with a degree in elementary education and have a classroom of my own. It took changing my major twice and taking some time off from school to realize this wouldn’t be the outcome of my college experience.
Growing up, my Uncle Hewey never missed the opportunity to send a card for a birthday or holiday. The last card that I received from him was my high school graduation card – a card that I still read on a regular basis. In the card, he spoke of how proud he was of me and told me of how he also took three years to transition into college after high school. I read this, along with his other encouraging words, to remind myself that not everyone has the same path to travel throughout life. It assures me that no matter what I do with my life or how long it takes me, if I get it done and it makes me happy, that is all that matters.
During my time away from the classroom, I was living in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina. While there, I took a few classes at Trident Technical College, worked for two wedding/event companies and worked in a restaurant.
I was working in the restaurant one day when I had a guest who had eaten there two times prior to this visit. She approach me with two business cards and some friendly advice.
I was working in the restaurant one day when I had a guest who had eaten there two times prior to this visit. She approach me with two business cards and some friendly advice. She told me that I needed to finish school, which I was unknowingly working towards, because she would have asked me to work for her on the West Coast if I had my degree due to my personality and the stories I told her about what I wanted to do. The conversations I had with Monica throughout her visits to the restaurant impacted my decisions about my future more than I realized at the time.
I took away so many life and professional lessons from her along with a realization that I was better at working with people than I realized.
I have always been an organized, bubbly person so it was not hard for me to work with the public and work with strangers while in the city. If anything, the jobs I worked helped me become more outgoing and confident in myself and my work.
I tell you these stories to help you better understand my reasoning behind choosing what I am pursuing for my future. I went from being a confused student for two years to someone who is more than certain of their career path; a very excited and hopeful person to say the least. Working with children would have been fun, but I had my doubts. I often thought to myself, “What if I wake up one morning and do not want to teach? Then what do I do with my degree? With my career?”
I thought long and hard about my decision when I returned to school and I could not be happier with choosing mass communications. It is such a diverse field to be in whether you are writing or working in public relations – and I love being able to work with a variety of people.
Why is a PR student focusing on journalism? I was wondering the same thing until I realized during my first semester as a mass communications student that journalism chose me. I am an Assistant Managing Editor of our school newspaper, The Patriot, which I have found to be one of the more enjoyable things I have done throughout my collegiate career. Writing is something I have always been passionate about and something that comes naturally to me. Being involved with the paper allows me to learn different things about my peers, school and community that I might not have otherwise known.
With the opportunities I have recently been presented, such as this internship for SPJ Region 3 and an editing position with my school’s paper, I hope to grow as a writer and better understand what goes in to writing a good article, expanding my vocabulary and expanding my network. I enjoy telling stories about people’s lives or reporting the news to make sure that the audience I am reaching is well informed. I think it is immensely important that people stay well informed and have honest news.
I feel that an issue for prospective journalists is not having a common nine-to-five job, but having a job that requires you to work around the clock. Life does not stop which means that your stories and the news never stop. Journalists are constantly writing and learning to help themselves learn more about what they are reporting so that readers are best informed.
I also believe that it is difficult to keep an audience interested in traditional forms of news. For instance, many Americans get their news from social media rather than newspapers, television news organizations or the radio.
I also believe that it is difficult to keep an audience interested in traditional forms of news. For instance, many Americans get their news from social media rather than newspapers, television news organizations or the radio. These platforms are still relevant and require a professional journalist, and people do relish in the fact that they can get news updates as push notifications on their phone or simply “follow” their favorite news stations or broadcasters for immediate information.
Throughout my career as a student journalist and future journalist, I hope to find ways to incorporate my beliefs into my writing and be a part of a writing generation that keeps the newspaper alive and peaks the trust in the media with readers. I plan to tell every person’s story in the most concise and honest way possible to ensure readers know the real story.
I am enthusiastic about my future in journalism and hope to take away an abundance of information about the field and myself by the time I complete my internship. I am beyond excited and more than thankful to share this journey with the Society of Professional Journalists.
Sarah Jones is a junior at Francis Marion University, Florence, South Carolina, majoring in mass communications and minoring in psychology. She is a member of the FMU Student Media Association and is a staff writer for The Patriot, FMU’s student newspaper. Her hometown is Lugoff, South Carolina. She hopes to pursue a career in public relations. email@example.com.
Jones’ SPJ Region 3 internship also includes tasks for its March 24 SPJ spring conference in Charleston, South Carolina.