The fall semester I just completed was the most challenging of my educational career thus far. Besides being a collection of very heady, very theory oriented, very upper division courses that are required for the completion of my BA, I was also working nearly full time as a staff writer at a small newspaper while still taking care of my (single) parental and household responsibilities as well. It was not a surprise that I was busy, I knew I would be. I was not “in over my head” either; I was always confident that I would prevail. It was not, however, easy - not by any stretch of the imagination.
In addition to the expected, my share of the unexpected materialized as well. Those that have been reading here recently know of my son’s injuries sustained as a passenger in an automobile wreck and the pensive holding pattern my world entered for a few days – just as the semester came to a close. My priorities are non-negotiable; my son's needs came before my own. Yet, with the help of family and friends, I was able to be with him when he needed me most and still persevere in school... and my job.
The schedule I set up was of my choosing. It is conceivable that I could have been all but done with my education had I not chosen to accept the opportunity to write professionally. Only one class was unavailable last fall, which would've left only those three units to complete this spring - my final semester. After assessing, cutting back and considerably juggling my fall schedule, I was able to make the commitment to work until the end of the year. However, the option was mine as to whether I would continue until this coming summer and beyond – class schedule permitting. As it turns out, I could have worked it out again. I just didn’t want to.
I never took the job for the money. Although I’m not inclined to reveal the pay, suffice it to say that it was very “entry-level.” No surprises there and I expected nothing more. The real value has a much more lasting effect. I now have tons of clips. I don’t have to gather the few published works I have and submit them all - the good, the bad and the ugly - to a potential employer. For an inexperienced writer, that’s the hard part. My problem will be deciding which clips to use. Indeed, although I might still be inexperienced, I am far less so because of this internship-turned-employment opportunity that was laid at my feet.
Although more experience never hurts and the pay, modest as it is, always helps, I decided not to extend my employment beyond my initial commitment. My spring schedule could have been arranged around the job again this semester. However, it would have again demanded a great deal of sacrifice. I know I am up to it, even more so than before. I know this because of my marks this semester combined with the feedback I received from my superiors at the newspaper. My grades this past semester?
American Foreign Policy: A-
Public Policy Development: A-
Public Affairs Reporting: A-
Online Publishing: A
Dean’s Honor List for the third consecutive semester.
That totals a 3.775 GPA!
Now, for sure, I know I can do it. But I don’t have to endure that kind of pressure going into my final semester at school. Not working has also afforded me the time to take two courses that aren’t required but will be extremely helpful in furthering my career. And I can relax a little and enjoy this last semester. Freelancing is still an option – in fact, I’ve already turned down two or three requests… I’m still decompressing. But it is an avenue I will be pursuing in the very short term. School doesn’t begin again for another three weeks – I’ll be ready to kill some of this abundance of time very soon.
I approached the last semester, with all the attendant demands on my time, with a “can-do” attitude. There were times, however, that I felt I would have to sacrifice some of my GPA. In fact, right up to the end, I felt like I had a tiger by the tail. It was all I could do to hold on at times, yet I always knew I would. It seemed I was always scrambling to keep up, I never felt like I was ahead. I accepted that my GPA would probably take a hit.
But it didn’t.
It wasn't easy.