A year later and I still love my job

By Elyssa Parnell

April 1, 2014

Tuesday marked a very important “year in review” of my life: Exactly one year ago Tuesday I began my job with The Newberry Observer.

So what have I learned with my one year as a newspaper reporter? I guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

My mother has always told me that I loved writing before I even knew how. What does this mean exactly? Take for instance a typical football game from my childhood. My family has season tickets to the University of South Carolina football games, but what did I do during the game? I’ve been told (and I somewhat vaguely remember) that while surrounded by cheering Gamecock fans, I would take my notepad and pencil and simply jot down notes from the game, who was winning, what the score was at halftime, simple facts, etc.

Even before this, I loved to create books. I would illustrate stapled pages of copy paper together and have my parents either write down what I wanted my stories to say or help me to sound out the words so that I could do it myself. Maybe I was born to write, I’m not sure, but I’ve definitely enjoyed exploring that option to find out.

Graduating from college a couple years ago in 2012, I guess I would consider this as my first “real” job. I still remember going into my interview last March with high expectations and plenty of nervous jitters. In the end, I hoped just being myself would be good enough. When I received that call attached to my new job offer, the only new question I had to answer was: When would you like to start?

April 1 was my response and clear as day I can still hear my editor asking me: “Are you sure you want to start a brand new job on April Fool’s Day?” Well, I was — until she asked me that. Needless to say, no one played tricks on me that first day, but instead welcomed me into an environment that has been my home for the past year.

My first few weeks, maybe months even, I still consider my transition time. Studying journalism in college, I thought I knew the basics, but like any job, things are always much different than you may think. Some concepts were similar to my schooling, while others I had to sort of “teach myself” and get adjusted to.

One of the biggest issues I had, which is unfortunate seeing as how I’ve lived in Newberry my whole life, was the fact I had no idea where ANYTHING was. I almost needed a GPS just to locate the simplest of locations. Some of my friends and co-workers still give me a hard time about that.

My first week I was dead-to-the-world tired, and some weeks can still be that way, but as I’ve known from the very beginning that you don’t get into the newspaper business to be rich and you don’t do it for fame. You do this because you absolutely love it. If you don’t love it, you’ll never be happy.

I think I’ve learned a lot in the short year that I’ve been here. I’ve learned how to better stick to my guns on ideas and concepts that I think are important. I’ve also learned that sometimes you have to say no for your sanity, or for the good of the paper.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to grab up a good story, which can be scary, but the final product is always worth the effort. As a journalist, I’ve learned you’re going to make mistakes, sometimes more than you’d like. Instead of dwelling on those, the best thing to do is to simply learn from each one and make yourself better.

Have I made sacrifices? Absolutely. What adult with a full-time job doesn’t have to make sacrifices? One thing is for sure though — and that’s that I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have and those that I have been given.

Although every day is different, and most days are far from ideal, a quote from Confucius comes to mind: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”