Well, it’s official. I’ve lived in Iowa for one month now. That’s something I probably never would have imagined saying even six months ago.
I graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor’s in Journalism on May 20th and came straight to Sioux City, Iowa. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to most of the people I hung out with.
As many of you know, I moved here because I was offered a job opportunity I couldn’t turn down… a reporting position with ABC 9.
I’ve had so many people ask me, “Why Iowa?”
What a lot of people don’t understand about broadcast journalism, is that you HAVE to start in a small market. You think CNN New York is going to hire a recent college grad? Of course not. They want a well-seasoned journalist who has a lot of experience on air and has been doing their job well for years.
Iowa is market number 149. Out of just a bit more than 200 markets in the United States, 149 is a good starting point. And the truth is, it really doesn’t matter WHERE you start or where you end up really. Because even the best and most famous journalists today started in towns we all have probably never heard of. And many do end up in Los Angeles or New York, which are the top two markets, but again, it doesn’t matter where you end up, as long as you are happy with the town you end up in. I know that the anchors who have worked at ABC 9 in Sioux City have been here for YEARS, and they love it. They’ve established families, lifestyles, hobbies, and I’m pretty sure they don’t plan on leaving. They’re completely happy with where they are stationed at market 149. And that’s really all that matters in this industry.
The first two weeks here were the hardest. I felt so lonely, bored, lost, and worried that the next two years of my life were going to be such a challenge to get through. And even now, I still sometimes feel that way. For the first time ever, I’m living on my own, without any help from my parents. I moved to a place I had never been to and didn’t know anyone. I jumped right into my career immediately after graduating. I moved from the number two market, where there is a city full of things to do, to market 149, where there is virtually nothing to do.
To act as my saving grace, I still Skype my old friends from LA, and maintain my hobbies of writing, reading, crafting, hiking, dancing, exercising, singing, shopping, and trying new things.
The one good thing about being in Iowa for this job, is that at least my job makes me happy. Although it can be really, really stressful at times because it is so deadline driven, I enjoy what I do. Especially since I am new to this town. I get to drive a company car around four different bordering states, meet new people, try new things, explore, and be up on my feet doing something different every day; all at the company’s expense. That’s the beauty of being a reporter.
Going into my senior year of college, I knew I did not want a job where I just sat in front of a computer for eight hours a day. I wanted to fulfill the adventurous beast within me, meet new people, and get as much experience out of life as I possibly could without taking a drastic jump of just saving a bunch of money at a mediocre job, going to travel, and repeating that cycle until I retire. I wanted a career where I had a goal and vision of working my way up the ladder of greats. Something where I still got to go out, travel, be active, and do new things every day. Being a reporter definitely meets that vision.
And that’s not to say my job is perfect. At every job, you will find flaws, people you don’t enjoy being around, and you’ll experience days that are worse than others. But considering all of that, I have definitely found more pros than cons with my job.
I get to meet interesting people, try new things, find creative ways to tell others’ stories, explore new places… and I get PAID to do it.
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from all this, besides the fact that I think I chose the right career, is that I was able to see who my real friends were throughout this journey.
If someone is your REAL friend, distance would not stop them from supporting you, keeping up with you, and making attempts to communicate with you. When I left LA, I was literally in tears thinking about how many friends I was leaving behind.
But now that I am one month into my new chapter, some of those people showed their true colors very quickly. My REAL friends still talk to me every week, and tell me how happy they are for me. We pick up our conversations right where we left off. It’s like I never left.
The people who say it’s too hard to keep in contact were filtered out of my life immediately. With the world we live in today, with all the technology that allows us to communicate globally, how can someone say that? Even if you are a super busy person, sending a text on your lunch break takes one minute. But I didn’t even bother to reach out and complain, because I am not going to make myself small for someone who refuses to grow with me. Because if someone is a true friend, they would make the effort.
I think I’ve come to really value the friendships I’ve maintained, however. You kind of take people for granted when you get to see them all the time, but when you’re halfway across the country and the real homies stick by your side, you really start to appreciate the friendships you have with these people. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
The last thing that really surprised me about my big move, is the professors I’ve kept in contact with. Even the ones I said I didn’t plan on speaking with post-grad, I’ve come to truly value their advice, feedback and conversations. These are all people who are well-seasoned journalists and have amazing things to say about the industry and about life as a journalist in general. They’ve helped me establish connections with other broadcasting groups so that I can have my next job lined up when my contract is up in two years. After all, networking is KEY in any line of work.
At times, I still think two years is going to be a bit rough. But after just one month in Iowa, I’ve already met some interesting people, established a few friendships, stay busy with my hobbies and work, filtered out who my real friends are, and am starting off a life of my own.
I just keep reminding myself that although Sioux City is not where I want to end up, this is the stepping stone I need to really jump-start my career. After I pay my dues, that’s when I will truly start to soar. After all, I didn’t come here to make a social life, I came here to make noise.
If you want to keep up on my broadcast career, like my ABC 9 Facebook page where I post all of my stories!