If you’re interested in journalism, like me, then you’ve probably considered working for your school paper (if you haven’t already been doing that). While getting that experience can be good and even fun, sometimes it’s a bit daunting.
Managing deadlines for both assignments and the paper can be a little overwhelming, but I have found that the key is to do class assignments, and find the time to work on your articles after that. Having deadlines left and right can be bothersome, but your classes should always come first.
If you’re assigned to be a lead reporter, such as myself, you have to track people down and talk to them, but, as someone who has social anxiety and hates talking to strangers, this can be the most difficult aspect of working for the school paper. I have found some ways to make that specific task a lot less nerve-wracking; for example, knowing information others don’t helps me to overcome my anxiety. But in order to find those things out, I have to talk to people.
I like finding out what the next story is and writing all about it; however, that doesn’t really work if you have zero sources to back up your information. There are a few ways that I make working for the school paper less scary.
The first thing I do is find out who I need to talk to, and about what; then, I write down some potential questions. I try to write at least 10 things so that I can have sufficient information; if I ever need more to build up my story, I always ask for their contact information just in case, but, in general, writing down 10 questions beforehand works for me. It helps me a lot because then I already know what I want to ask before the interview starts, and it takes off some pressure so I can get on with it a lot better.
Always remember to breathe. I can’t focus on the person I’m speaking to if my mind is spiraling, so before I speak to the source, I tell myself to relax, and just breathe. Interviews tend to go a lot quicker if you’re not counting down the seconds for it to end.
My breathing tactic has come in handy, especially when I have had a bad week and have absolutely zero motivation to speak to anyone. It helps me get my thoughts together long enough to do what I have to do, and then move on.
The writing aspect of the job isn’t so difficult (although some days it can feel that way); it’s just talking to people. This experience takes me out of my comfort zone, even when I don’t like it, which I can appreciate because I see it as a way to prepare myself in case this is a path I want to follow.
Next time you have to talk someone you don’t know for a story, just remind yourself that you’re building up the skills necessary to converse with others, and it will go a long way in helping you in your chosen field later on in life.
If you really feel like you can’t talk to others, but you’d like to get better at it, seek some help! Talk about it with friends, and see if they can help you come to a solution that makes it easier to talk to people you don’t know. (And if they don’t have any advice, there’s always Google.)
The other thing that I find helpful is knowing that, once I have the information I need, I don’t need to talk to people anymore. Once I’ve done all the legwork, I’m set. The only thing left to do is to write the piece and make the deadline, which hasn’t been much of an issue for me lately.
Writing is something that has always come naturally to me, so I don’t mind it (unless it’s for a research paper). Working on a story that will spread knowledge of what’s going on at school is something that I enjoy doing, so although talking to people to get information is terrifying to me, in the end, it’s worth it.
So if you like getting information but hate the process of doing so, just know that you’re not alone. It takes a lot of work to muster the courage to talk to strangers when you are not a people person. While it can be stressful on some days, just remember that it never takes as long as you think it will.
It isn’t all bad, though; there are days where working for my school paper doesn’t overwhelm me with anxiety, and, when they come, they tend to be pretty great.
When my anxiety starts to kick in, I remind myself that I have a job to do. I tell myself to get over it, take a deep breath and then go for it.
Being an introvert who likes journalism is a challenge I must face weekly, but I think that it will help me for the better in the long run. As much as I might not like the aspect of speaking to strangers, I know that I can’t do my job properly if I don’t.
If you are considering working for your school paper, or are already working for it, take some of these tips to heart. Being an introvert in a communicative field can be scary, but if you have ways to make it easier for you, take them. Do what you think is best.