What I’ve Learned From Being a Her Campus Contributor

As this school year comes to a close in quite the unconventional online way, I can’t help but reflect on how it started. I came back to Ryerson University in September and told myself that this would be the year that I started to put my name out there, especially being a journalism student. Whether it was just pitching articles here and there or being a contributor, I knew I needed to get involved somehow. I had built up a repertoire of skills from my classes and I wanted to, well, flex, in some sort of way. Nothing flashy, nothing too excessive, but I wanted to be a part of a team. 

When the opportunity presented itself to apply to be a contributor for Ryerson’s Her Campus chapter, I thought it would be a great fit. However, I was nervous. I didn’t think they would want me to write for them every three weeks because I had zero published work. I almost psyched myself out. On the last night before the applications were due, I went out on a whim and sent in my application. To my surprise, well, you can already guess how that turned out. Fast forward to the present and here I am! Writing my final article, full of gratitude. 

Here are a few things I’ve learned throughout the year:

People aren’t as scary as you think

One aspect that has always made my stomach flip flop around was how “cut throat” the journalism industry is made out to be sometimes. Of course it has to be competitive and taken seriously but I had this thought that even school publications would follow suit in a similar way. It’s almost embarrassing that I thought that because I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Getting involved with the Ryerson chapter of Her Campus showed me that this is a real group effort to keep things running smoothly. Teamwork is vital and each person’s job makes a difference. From the contributors, to the junior editors, all the way up to the editors-in-chief. I experienced what it takes to get an article from the first stage of pitching to the final stage of publishing. 

My takeaway here is that it’s fine to have an idea of what a job might be like, but truly I can’t make assumptions and already believe I have it all figured out. I’m also learning that I like surprises!

Take your time finding your niche

It was always a lingering thought in the back of my mind that maybe journalism wasn’t the best fit for me. I saw all these other classmates and friends start to produce work that they were so proud of. Until about halfway through second year, I simply hadn’t found what my niche was. What was I good at, what did I really enjoy doing? The idea of throwing myself into a bunch of different extracurricular activities that I wasn’t too sure I’d even like was not favourable to me. I know, I know, you have to branch out and try new things but I just wasn’t interested in much at the time. 

However when I did find something I was excited about working on, it made complete sense. Waiting until you feel comfortable and confident is important. Don’t feel obligated to join clubs or be a part of teams you don’t have much interest in just because you see others doing so. Everyone is on their own path and their own journey, including you! When the time is right, you’ll find what you love doing and you’ll rock. 

Extra work isn’t a hindrance; it can be full of passion

I used to look at my fellow classmates who were involved with publications and think, “Wow, how the heck do they juggle that, work, and school?” When I first entered university I was serious about focusing on school. What I didn’t realize, which in hindsight, it should have been clear, is that Ryerson offers so many opportunities to put what you’re learning in class to the test.

For journalism students especially, there are lots of different organizations to get involved with. Whether it’s RUTV News, CanCulture, The Eyeopener, or of course Her Campus, there’s a beat for everyone to try out. This is the time to experiment and see what you’re really passionate about. Maybe you thought breaking news writing was going to be your future for sure, but after writing a feature story for CanCulture, you’ve changed your mind. 

The point is, having some extra work isn’t going to bring you down. It’s going to show you your abilities, and quite frankly, teach you to multitask, which isn’t a bad thing at all!

I like to write (big shocker)

What I’m most grateful for about this experience was that it reminded me what I enjoy the most - writing. I had the opportunity to tinker around with different styles of articles. It was fun to write about whatever was on my mind the most every three weeks. Much to the dismay of some of my first year instructors, I learned that listicles aren’t so scary. They can be informative and a handy format to structure an article. Heck, you’ve been reading one this whole time! 

Instead of being pigeonholed to one specific section, I could explore whatever inspired me at the time. Sports, fashion, lifestyle, health and wellbeing, I could dabble in it all. Continuously writing also got me into the groove of brainstorming ideas. One article would lead to another or inspire another thought. It felt almost empowering to be on a roll like that. The momentum that I generated after a year of pitching and writing will carry me further in the years to come.

After a school year of contributing to Her Campus, it feels odd that it’s coming to a close. This year posed some challenges to me outside of school but I was always appreciative that I had my connection to Her Campus to give me an outlet. It may seem silly that writing an article every three weeks was such a game changer for me, but it was. This has certainly been the pushing, confidence boosting, eye opening, and reminding experience that I needed. Thank you.