Professor Profile: UF's Andrea Billups

A handbag designer, a ghost writer and a professor walk into the room. What do they all have in common? Andrea Billups is actually all three of them. This is Andrea’s second year of empowering budding UF journalists with her fiery passion for the craft of storytelling. Professor Billups brings real world experience and a wealth of knowledge to the courses she teaches at UF, while also managing to add her own spunky flair to education. 

Her Campus UFL (HC): When did you know journalism was the field you wanted to be in?

Andrea Billups (AB): “Like a lot of students, I didn’t know. I graduated from Marshall University with a degree in journalism, but I still didn’t know that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I worked in PR and radio before I really decided that I wanted to write. I always knew that I wanted to write, I just wasn’t sure how or where.”

HC: What was your first job after graduating college?

AB: “I worked as a bartender after college, one of the greatest journalism jobs I have ever had. I knew after that, I could ask anyone anything. Then I started doing a lot of freelance writing.”

HC: What has been your favorite journalism job, and what did it teach you?

AB: “My favorite job was working as a staff correspondent at People magazine. I got to do all kinds of stories from human interest to breaking news. It was a great learning experience; I worked hard with a lot of talented people who were very invested in doing hard journalism. Working at People really taught me the value of teamwork. It taught me the difference between working with strong leaders and weak ones and that celebrity is a business and not something fun. It doesn’t matter if you’re covering a celebrity red carpet or a news story from Washington, being a good reporter and having foundational reporting skills is everything.”

HC: How did you make it back to UF as a professor?

AB: “I got my master’s degree at UF. I was visiting campus twice a year to stay connected to campus and to give back to the school, because I wanted to know what was going on. When they asked if I wanted to teach, I was honored. It means everything to me to be able to come back to UF, this is my third semester teaching here.”

HC: Besides being an amazing professor, what are you working on right now?

AB: “I wear a lot of hats; that has definitely been a constant in my life. Besides teaching, I also work as a ghost writer and a media consultant. I still maintain a relationship with People magazine as a contributing writer. About 3 years ago I started a hand bag company with my friend, Marsa Truscott. We weren’t certain where we’d go with it, but it’s been very successful.”

HC: Finally, do you have any advice for UF students looking to make a career in the field of journalism?

AB: “There is no substitute for hard work and dedication, not even talent. Humble yourself and take on any job or assignment, and do that job well. I talk to a lot of students who have large aspirations and think they’ll leave school and somehow land a magnificent job. I want them to slow down and learn their craft, practice how to be a good journalist. Having real reporting skills is everything, being a reporter first is foundational, and that’s what will set them apart. Any job worth having, is worth working for. I want students in the future to have strong journalism skills, and a mindset that they are going to have to outwork everyone to get ahead.”

Check out Andrea’s handbag line at BeBrilliantBags.com.

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