June 27, 2006

The Summer of Jenn

I find myself in the expanse of summer without an expanse of my friends. They are off in other cities, studying, working, drinking, etc. I am here.

But I don't complain -- I accomplish. I won't take the time that would have been spent at gossiping for hours over skim-no-whip raspberry mochas and just throw it away. I have taken my relaxing summer and turned it into a timetable for accomplishing goals.

My time thus far is split as such: two days a week interning at Pittsburgh magazine. Remaining days working in my dad's accounting office. Portions of nights go to my boyfriend, what friends remain (2), and family.

Then there are my self-improvement goals. Time after work (should) be spent working out -- 30 minutes of cardio and then abs and weight-lifting. I have decided to take up the violin again after a 4 year hiatus. I have made it my goal to write three short stories and a handful of columns by the end of the summer. I decided I wanted to buy a house next summer and made a savings plan. I am now also suddenly preparing for the LSAT on September 30.

However, such pure ideals and worthy goals never fail to leave a bitter taste at the end. My workout plan ended sometime in July. I successfully had someone else tune my violin, played one song, and then stopped. I have no short stories, no columns, and have scarcely written in this blog. I am slightly more than one fifth of the way to my savings goal. I have purchased an LSAT prep book and read the intro. This is my biggest success.

But it is better to have tried than to have done nothing. I have learned that time that seems long and free at the beginning of a summer can quickly dwindle and that maybe one or two modest goals are better than five or ten impossible ones. From what seems like a summer of failure, I can take one or two of my goals and move them over to the fall semester.

For the sake of my neighbors, it won't be the violin.

April 12, 2006

Oh, sweet desperation

It's that time of year again. Only a few weeks left in the semester to pull out from under your bed all the projects and books you forgot about. And then once you realize that the empty expanse of summer is upon you, you find something else to panic about -- you need an internship. Nowish.

I had the best intentions of applying for internships early, over winter break, so that I could sit pretty for these last few weeks. But alas, I am a twenty year old college student with a slight procrastination problem. I have piles of papers on my desk of addresses and phone numbers of places I mean to call and ask about internships, but there they sit, unbothered by me.

However, it's not all bad. I managed to kick it into gear a few weeks ago and I applied for what would be a super-sweet (yet impossible to get) internship in NYC working for Random House Publishing.

That at least got the ball rolling.

Then I sent in my resume and clips to PITTSBURGH Magazine, to have them bounced back twice because my files were too big, and then finally to have them accepted. I have an interview there on Friday.

Oddly, the prospect of this internship is fueling my fire, not making me complacent, because it is unpaid. Story of my life.

So now I'm flying around looking for a possible second internship, maybe something in marketing, that can pay me, to supplement this one (if I get it).

So there's a lot of figuring out to do over the next few weeks. Figuring out final papers and projects, figuring out a schedule for next year (!) and figuring out exactly how I will spend my summer. We'll see how this goes.

March 20, 2006

Don't wanna be an American idiot?

Over the past few weeks, my intermediate journalism class has been hosting different journalists as part of the Susie Gharib Distinguished Lectureship in Journalism. No matter what their field, each guest hit on an issue that seems to be on the minds of journalists across the country -- that young people are increasingly disengaged with the news.

Newspaper readership rates are under twenty percent for our age group. A lot of hopefuls believe that college students and twenty-somethings will pick up the habit later in life, but studies show that if the newspaper bug hasn't bitten by now, it probably never will.

What does this mean? Defenders of the youth's reputation say that young people get their news from the internet. This is largely true. Young people spend a lot of time in front of a computer, so it's very easy to take a quick break and head to nytimes.com or cnn.com to see what's going on in the world. However, this leads to a filtered version of the news.

As a lover of nytimes.com and a hater of inky hands and bulky pages, I was in denial of this fact for a while, but it is true. When you look at news online, you only see what you want to see. You click a section or a story, and ignore headlines that don't interest you. When you read a paper, you are forced to flip through the paper to follow the story that you are reading, and this presents you with pictures and headlines that you might never come across while reading online.

But getting news from the internet is certainly better than nothing. However, most young people don't even go that far. This means that most young people are greatly uninformed about what is going on in the world. Our parents know, and our grandparents know even better, but we're clueless. The problem seems to be that we simply don't care. As long as some people know what's going on (older generations), we feel pretty safe.

With people spending more time in college and more time living at home, experts are saying that adulthood doesn't really seem to start until people enter their thirties. This lulls today's young people into a false sense of security -- like they will always be taken care of.

But what will happen when we're all out of college and entry-level jobs and actually running this place? I wonder what it will take to make us realize that it's important to be knowledgeable and engaged. Will it happen when our kids come home with newspaper clippings from current events classes and we can't have an intelligent conversation with them? Will it happen when our leaders start making decisions we don't agree with because no one knew enough about the issues to go out and vote?

I don't want to pretend that I am especially news-savvy. It seems like my day doesn't allow time for anything more than a quick run through the front page. I think that is how most young people feel. But I am starting to realize that we need to find the time and lose the apathy. Fast.

March 01, 2006

New York Times wins one for the humanities majors

A letter to the editor in the New York Times heralded the importance of humanities departments in a university community ever-focused on the sciences. In a world growing smaller by the day, it's necessary to retain a strong group of young adults who can communicate well and understand how to interact with other cultures.

A humanities major is often made the brunt of future unemployment jokes, but when it's time for a scientist to develop a good presentation, who do they call? It's hard to present your scientific breakthrough without the ability to explain it clearly. It's impossible to expand your invention globally without an understanding of foreign languages and cultural tendencies.

Humanities students develop some of the most usable skills during their college careers -- the ability to think, speak, write, and understand. In a fast-paced tech world, the humanities students are not becoming obsolete. They are becoming invaluable.