While I've been an avid writer since the age of 11, I've never really taken a big interest in writing for anyone else until now. Sure, I've written Fanfiction since high school, but that's different, I barely know any of my readers in person. Contrastingly, student journalism is designed to reach and portray the interests of those in your campus community. So, wanting to broaden my experience as a future professional writer, I took a huge out of comfort zone risk and signed up to write for our university's newspaper.
To say the first week of classes was an overwhelming learning experience might be the understatement of the century. There is so much more to being a reporter and journalist than I could have ever imagined. You have to start researching before you can even decide what will make a good story. It means knowing your audience from head to toe. It's knowing you will write about sports even if you hate sports, and getting less interesting stories in order to gain experience.
I have definitely learned that creating a student newspaper is a huge focus on team work and learning to lean on one and other. Even if you are the only person assigned to a particular story, you won't build the story from the ground up by yourself. (Thank god) It's okay to go to your section editor and ask a million questions and yes, it's okay to be handed a draft that is covered in red marks. After one week I have learned that the best thing to do is take every mistake and turn it into a learning experience.
Being a reporter, above everything else you may learn, is all about learning how to step out of your comfort zone and doing things that challenge you, both personally and professionally. Take stories in the sections that you are least comfortable writing about, learn to be comfortable getting story information from strangers, sign up for a leadership role. I have learned that journalism is not at all what I expected, and that's terrifying. So, take risks, be challenged, there's a lot to look forward to.