arrow_back Back To Stories

My Personal Journey to Become a Journalist, By: Ariana Calvachi

Jun 06, 2022 05:42 PM
Click to go to article

Working with Outcome Campus Connect (OCC) gave me a taste of what to expect as a journalist and content creator. This journey has given me the ability to think outside the box and work efficiently. It is the first time I’ve worked as a student journalist, and here’s how it all began. 

When I first started out at St. Thomas, I felt a little lost - I didn’t know where I would see myself in four years’ time. I had a lot of self-doubt about my writing skills, since I had a huge disadvantage against other students: my language. (As an Ecuadorian, my first language is Spanish). I always felt like I was behind everyone on everything, every single day, and that was extremely frustrating. I even was “advised” by a teacher to look for another career, since I lacked the ability to be a good journalist; that really threw me off. I felt lost. I even considered switching careers, but I never found something that felt as right as writing. Even as a child, I carried a notebook with me. I felt like I became the words I wrote.

I persisted in the face of doubt. Through this, and throughout college, I must admit that one of the biggest challenges of my life was learning to adjust, absorb new information, improve as fast as required, and apply myself and my work again. In this process, even in failure I won. I know that after four years I’m not the same lost person that walked into STU. I’m proud of who I have become as a writer, journalist, and individual. Overcoming all this didn’t just make me understand how much hard work pays off but the importance of good guidance.

They say, “Everything happens for a reason”, and its cliché but true. Every St. Thomas class I took played a huge role in what I have become. I wouldn’t be able to edit audio, video, use a camera, or write a paper-edit rough cut, if it weren’t for Toolbox. I wouldn’t know how to conduct a podcast, or even make one if it weren’t for Mark Tunney’s class. I wouldn't have lost my fear of interviewing if it weren’t for Jan Wong. One of the most influential people in my life, who was an inspiration and support for me was Phillip Lee, with his journalist and mentoring skills. It’s simple, if I didn’t learn all these skills, knowledge, and tools, I know that I would’ve never even been considered by Orbis OCC for hire. Before working for Orbis OCC, I needed to grow and develop skills that this company (or any company) would find valuable.

Orbis OCC, was a company listed on jobs at the STU website. By this time, I had been dragged out of Canada back to Ecuador due to the pandemic. It had been a year of the pandemic and after having to deal with economic crisis, health, and mental health issues, I didn’t want to keep living another year in ‘the oblivion of time’, waiting for something to happen. The only good thing about that year is that with everything happening around me I wrote several pieces for The Aquinian, STU’s newspaper. This didn’t last very long, since I don't feel fulfilled in the work or process. Yeah, I did get great pieces done but I really wanted a challenge. I updated my resume and, funny thing, I sent out my application for Orbis a week late. Honestly, I didn’t have many hopes of even getting a reply.

Fortunately, I did, and I was hired for two terms. OCC works by terms, in which they hire students or recent graduates from different countries to write and create content for their site. My first term in Orbis felt so magical, every little taste of it made me feel like I was floating. The ideas just fought one another to get out of my mouth. As individuals, we were expected to submit bi-weekly invoices for our payments, the workload was always manageable since it was just 3 pieces per month, and you could take the fourth off. The only big recommendation that I had during my first term that would even heighten the experience was working alongside other students. Like writing an article together or a blog, or something, just exercise the ability to learn from others. Besides that, the first term was challenging because we needed to adapt to OCC’s working style and expectations, but their execution of the program was so flawless we didn’t face major encounters.

There are two submissions I’m most proud of throughout my time working with OCC. Firstly, I challenged myself by producing a Q & A with Professor Philip Lee. Before this piece, I didn't even know how to structure a piece like this, but I knew that with some research and examples I would be able to pull it off. It took twice the time I normally take to write an article but, in the end, it made me so proud. I’m sure it is one of the best pieces I’ve written in my life. In my second term, things switched up a bit. We were expected to write the 3 pieces, plus create content for their social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. I have never been great for social media but fortunately I know the importance of it due my minor, Communications. The guidance of my superiors from OCC helped me navigate through the difficulties.

I feel fortunate to have produced numerous interviews and wrote several pieces for their website. It was a unique journey and like all journeys not without its speedbumps. Throughout this learning, I was also recovering from an accident that I had at the beginning of January, which left me slower in every aspect, and I didn't count on the workload of the last semester before graduation so was juggling deadlines. OCC was always so supportive and brought me to the light once again. They filled the new students with hopes and hypes of what we were going to achieve together, this inspired all my team to search for stories, interviews, tips, and suggest new ideas.

Once again, due to all their support and the inspiration they woke on me, and I was able to pull together another story: “Matthew Diagle’s Journey: From a kid’s dream to a professional journalist”, which I believe turned out amazing.  

I personally think that working for Orbis not only will look good on my resume, but it opened my eyes to what I can expect from a future job and from myself - which I believe is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life. I’m thankful that I could experience this journey of self-discovery and getting to know the reporter inside of me. After this experience it’s only left to say that I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had with OCC. For now, I’m on my way to the next challenge: Just four weeks ago, I applied for a summer job at a magazine and several newspapers around my home city, in Ecuador. This experience also encouraged and supported me to pursue a MA in Investigative Journalism, in Spain.

The biggest difference between four years ago and now is that I know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve every little goal I’ve set for myself. I see myself now as more analytical, observing, patient, curious, and tenacious.

I am becoming who I want to be.