i [heart] my major: journalism

This is the sixth post in That Girl Magazine’s revived I [heart] my Major series! Do you have deep and unreasonable affection for your chosen course of study? Would you like to encourage younger folks to follow in your fantastic footsteps? Contact That Girl Magazine using my contact form, or contact me on facebook.

I became a journalism major when I was 11 years old. I hadn’t quite signed on the dotted line at NYU’s journalism department, but I was pretty close.

I boarded a plane heading to West Palm Beach to visit my grandparents and brought with me a stack of magazines: J-14, Tiger Beat, and Teen People. Much to the amusement of the couple seated in my row, I spent the next three hours scribbling notes in the margins. I was a pint-sized editor-in-chief, scrawling lengthy diatribes in purple glitter gel pens detailing what I did and didn’t like about each page.

College wasn’t on my brain back then, but that oddball hobby marked the beginnings of my love of magazine journalism. (Not too long ago, I discovered a 2004 issue of People tucked into my childhood bookshelf with margin notes explaining my opinions on Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s relationship. I was a weird kid.)

Even though I had a deep, obsessive love for magazines back then, settling on a major wasn’t easy. The college application process made me so anxious that I truly believed my less-than-stellar SAT math score would tank my applications and that I would never get into a good school, so I would never land a good job, so I would never make any money and my children would have to live on the streets and get shot at by gangs. Yes, I really believed this.

Luckily, I smartened up. I knew I liked to write and I liked fashion, so the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I decided to dip my toes into each industry with two internships. I spent three days a week at Her Campus. Today, it’s a media giant with 3,000 college women around the globe contributing to the site and more than one million monthly readers. The site was a tiny (but promising!) sliver of that when I joined; I was their first intern. I also spent two days a week interning for Daniela Corte, a Boston-based women’s designer.

I learned a few very important lessons that summer:

  1. Carrying four cups of coffee up four flights of stairs in heels is even more difficult than it sounds.
  2. An interest in fashion doesn’t necessarily translate to a desire to work in the fashion industry.
  3. I loved Her Campus.

While all my friends were CITs at their respective summer camps, Her Campus was my summer camp. Today, HC operates with a dozen interns, but in 2010, I was the only one. I worked in a conference room with just the three co-founders and a graphic design intern, so I soaked up everything – how to plan an editorial calendar, how to work with a team of writers, editing strategies, business deals with clients, the ins and outs of running a start-up, and more. When I left the office each evening to go home, I wrote and brainstormed editorial content on the train home.

My dad, a software engineer and total computer nerd, has always told me that work doesn’t feel like work if you love it. He’s right. I spent this past summer as an editorial intern at Mashable. My average day began with browsing my favorite online publications over breakfast, spending the day brainstorming and writing stories at Mashable, relaxing with a print magazine after work, and working freelance until it was time to crash. If I can spend all my waking hours immersed in journalism and still love it, I’m good.

And in twenty years, when I’ve climbed the masthead and land the position of editor-in-chief, I’ll make all my edits in purple glitter gel pen.

Hannah O is a journalism major at NYU ’15. Hannah is a magazine junkie, New York transplant, and bagel aficionado.