Editor’s note: Chestatee High School senior Bowen Corley has interned with The Times 10 hours a week this semester through the Work-Based Learning program. This column is a reflection on her time in the newsroom. Shannon Casas’ column will return next week.
Opportunities to have a new “job” with no strings attached do not come around often.
As juniors, different programs were pitched to me and my classmates as we began compiling our senior schedule.
Work-Based Learning was the program that stuck out to me. Instead of going to school, I could work and get hands-on experience in any career field I wanted.
In school, we are taught about countless careers. We then make a plan of which one we will pursue, which can change so often it leaves us feeling more confused than prepared. Although planning is good, eventually we just need to do something. We need to try a career and immerse ourselves in the environment it presents.
My career goal has always been to go into the medical field. So, I set out to look at the field of orthopedics.
I did not need a resume, recommendations or a degree. I walked in for my first day, with my new scrubs on, and was put right to work.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in that field, but when the first semester came to an end, I decided I didn’t want to leave anything up to chance in the process of choosing a career.
So for my second semester, I chose something completely different. I chose something that I had dreamed of doing but wasn’t sure what the real life implications would entail.
As a three-sport athlete, I could not help but think that sports broadcasting would be the best career. I could travel the country and talk to the best athletes and coaches in the world. I never thought of actually doing it though, because job security, pay and hours are so inconsistent. But those factors do not apply to a high schooler in the Work-Based Learning program.
So on my second-first day of the year, this time wearing khakis, I walked into The Times.
The only expectations I had were from watching movies. Newsrooms are always painted as the picture of beautiful chaos. People are walking fast and talking faster as they rush to meet deadlines and write the next big story. The reporters work nonstop, the editors are too busy to look at anyone, while the interns are just trying to make enough coffee to get everyone through.
So, I was quite surprised when I was greeted by the editor in chief on my first day and asked to start writing on my fourth. I never even had to brew a pot of coffee.
The small-town paper was strikingly different from the picture I had in my head. Since I came in the mornings, most reporters were still working from home or out in the community, so it was never crowded and often quiet.
The crew of writers do impressive work considering there are fewer than 10 of them. However, what surprised me most was the time they took to mentor me despite their busy schedule. Reporters and editors both took time to help me explore the field of journalism.
Mentors are supposed to be guides. They are not supposed to make things easy, but they are supposed to encourage you through the struggle of learning something new. My mentors at The Times did not write stories for me but let me struggle just enough to learn.
When I was writing my first story on Ivester Early College, I was nervous. I was nervous to interview the dean and to write a story that would be published. The day before my interview, Rachel, life editor at The Times, invited me to sit in on an interview she had.
As I watched and listened to her, I grew more confident in my abilities. She put me in a position to learn, but not be spoon fed. It is a picture of how this semester was. I was pushed beyond my area of comfort, but never too far.
And before too long, I was interviewing some of the best athletes in Hall County. I was assigned to get in touch with each of The Times 2022 Athletes of the Year and even write a profile story on two of them. It was neat to talk to athletes in my community, some that I have competed against, and get to know them as people and not just competitors.
Trying new things is intimidating and not always smooth sailing — that first article had lots of red marks after it was edited — but it is healthy.
If you have always wanted to do something, then do it. Don’t leave room for regrets.
Bowen Corley is a senior at Chestatee High School who plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall and major in exercise sports science.