By: Mollie Lastovica
Three students in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications are proving the practicality of their degree by taking what they have learned in the classroom and applying that knowledge to part-time jobs in the journalism field.
Working as Editor for the Aggieland yearbook, Managing Editor for The Battalion and Copy Editor for the Eagle, respectively, Kalee Bumguardner, Jake Walker and Christen Wilson, are committed to gaining journalism experience outside of the classroom.
Second Time’s a Charm
Kalee Bumguardner, a graduate student in the ALEC Department, is serving as Editor for the 2013 Aggieland. She is familiar with the production process of the university’s yearbook having served as the 2011 Editor during her undergraduate studies.
“I absolutely loved being Editor in 2011 and thought it would be a great opportunity for me to do it again,” Bumguardner said. “There were so many things that I would have done differently with the 2011 Aggieland, so this is my chance to try out all new things.”
Bumguardner and her staff began working on the 2013 Aggieland in the summer of 2012 and her term will run through the completion of the book. The theme of the yearbook is “Rediscovering Aggieland,” and it is with that theme in mind that Bumguardner has attempted to re-define the Aggieland.
“Re-think everything,” Bumguardner said in reference to her motto for the book. “I don’t want to be held back by my previous ways of designing and making the yearbook. I’ve tried to rediscover the Aggieland.”
As Editor, Bumguardner is responsible for seeing that the construction of the yearbook results in its publishing. This means that she has a hand in all parts of its creation from writing headlines, designing pages and promoting the book. With so much responsibility, she points that there are both challenges and rewards throughout the process.
“Being Editor has definitely put my organization skills to the test,” Bumguardner said. “But the greatest reward comes in seeing all your hard work from the past year printed in a book that people will be looking at for decades.”
She is grateful for her experience with the Aggieland and encourages all interested students to apply by visiting the website and completing the required application. Bumguardner points out that applications are accepted year-round, but the major hiring period is in the fall.
“The yearbook is such a great opportunity for students because it allows you to get hands-on experience in so many journalistic areas including writing, editing and designing,” Bumguardner said. “It’s also a paid position and a lot of fun!”
Preparing for the Future
Senior agricultural communications and journalism student Jake Walker was looking for a way to make extra money when he began writing for The Battalion last spring. Since joining the staff he has found a love for the newsroom environment and appreciates the insight he has gained while serving as Managing Editor.
“I spent a lot of time in the newsroom my first semester and was drawn in by the fast-paced, demanding work environment,” Walker said. “Being Managing Editor has given me valuable leadership and managerial experience that would have been hard to find somewhere else.”
In his role, Walker works with the day-to-day operations of The Battalion including budgeting, delegation and editing copy before sending it to print in Huntsville.
“I have learned so much about journalism, writing and design through all my time in The Battalion and I am excited to keep learning,” Walker said. “The best thing about the field is that there’s always something new to learn.”
He notes the importance of teamwork in producing a daily newspaper.
“The Battalion does not exist without teamwork,” Walker said. “Each person has his or her own job to do and if that job doesn’t get done, the whole team suffers.”
Walker is adamant that the experience gained by those who work for The Battalion is integral to pursuing a career in communications following graduation.
“There is no better place to get work experience than The Battalion,” Walker said. “It’s a daily newspaper, so it’s demanding. Once you learn how to spit out a news story in an hour you can write anything. The Battalion provides opportunities for photographers, graphic designers, page designers, copy editors and even advertising positions. Anybody interested in journalism should try out The Battalion. At the very least, they can find out whether or not they want to pursue it further.”
Walker hopes to continue working for The Battalion throughout next year and has applied for the role of Editor-In-Chief.
“I’m interested in pursuing some kind of journalism-related job after I graduate and the experience I get in the newsroom every day at The Battalion will set me apart from others,” Walker said. “It will be nice to have two or three years of daily journalism experience fresh out of college.”
Passion for Print
Christen Wilson, senior agricultural communications and journalism student, was led to her position as Copy Editor for the Eagle in December 2011.
“I received an e-mail through the department and I was desperately looking for a new job and this seemed to be a perfect fit,” Wilson said. “I am very passionate about print publications and have been since I was a little girl. There’s just something about being able to hold a hard copy in your hands and flip through the pages … so I decided that this was a good path to take and it would be a good experience.”
As Copy Editor, Wilson’s day begins with a budget meeting where the staff analyzes world, national, state and local events to determine what is newsworthy. From there, she is assigned pages for the day and searches for stories and artwork to then edit and place on the page. Depending on the number of stories she has for that day, this process is repeated multiple times.
“I have learned a lot of things,” Wilson said. “You definitely use your AP style book all the time if you work in publications. You learn how to interact with others in a work environment, how to present in meetings, how to upload stories and photos to the website, how to use Photoshop for editing photos, how to style pages and every day I personally challenge myself to come up with one really good, witty headline because you want to keep it fun.”
She thinks that her editing and design classes have been essential to her success in the role of Copy Editor and credits her experiences with the Eagle and what she has learned through AGCJ coursework to preparing her for a career after her May graduation.
“During a recent job interview, I was told that I was a top candidate because of all the experience I had in school,” Wilson said. “While working at the Eagle, I was also the Assistant Editor for the Agrileader. My advice to anyone who likes print is to do as much as possible to get the experience.”
While her position has helped her grow drastically as an individual and professional in journalism, Wilson is quick to note the importance of teamwork in the journalism field.
“Teamwork is huge,” Wilson said. “There is a lot of individual work involved, but we are always talking with teach other making sure we are not running duplicates of the same stories and every night we proof each other’s work.”
Although she will graduate in May, Wilson plans to work for the Eagle until she finds a full-time position in magazine publishing.
“The most rewarding thing I have seen since becoming a Copy Editor is my ability to confidently talk to people in interviews for full-time positions,” Wilson said. “I am proud to show them the work I have done and what I have accomplished during school.”