Behind The Desk: Working hard and reaping the rewards

In ninth grade, I joined the staff of my high school newspaper, The Gamut. It was distributed once a month, and often ended up stacked in the corner of the AP Biology classroom, to serve its ultimate purpose of protecting the tables from stray frog organs. My first assignment was to profile the four new faculty members who had joined the school. At the time, I was unaware that recording interviews was standard practice. Also, less than a month later, two of them left for, hopefully, reasons completely unrelated to the garbled mess of an article I scraped together.

Thankfully, this less than auspicious start to my journalism career did not also spell the end of it. I worked my way up to lifestyle editor my junior year and Editor-in-Chief my senior year, and part of the reason I decided to matriculate at USC was its seemingly esteemed journalism program. Once I was here, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me to join Daily Trojan as well, except for one reservation: the fact that it was daily.

But the DT representative at the Involvement Fair reassured me that no, I was free to pick up pitches at my convenience, and that being a writer wouldn’t impact my ability to attend other events or participate in extracurricular activities or hang out with my friends. Also, this definitely isn’t a shameless plug for interested students to consider applying as a writer, even though, y’know, you can pick up pitches at your convenience, and it won’t impinge on your ability to attend other events or participate in social activities or hang out with your friends. Just something to think about!

No one allayed my fears about stepping into the lifestyle editor role, however, likely because all these assets are forcibly stripped from you. I slog into the newsroom Sunday through Thursday, play the InDesign version of Tetris, sit tight for two rounds of proofs, suffer miniature heart attacks every time an article doesn’t pull through — essentially devoting more than 20 hours per week to ensuring the publication is the highest caliber possible, while getting vastly underpaid for it.

Each day is a juggling act, trying to balance my editor responsibilities with my other job without sacrificing my grades. Instead, I’ve sacrificed sleep, a social life and the spare time to just … vegetate.

But, and I say this without a trace of sarcasm and only the slightest trace of maudlinism, I’m having the absolute time of my life, and I wouldn’t trade my position for the world. There’s no shortage of arts and culture in Los Angeles, and as lifestyle editor I’m granted the opportunity to speak to creators and attend events for free. I’m not a news editor, so I get to experience the whirlwind secondhand as the Daily Trojan covers a semester chock-full of controversy, all the excitement but none of the stress. The people I work with are some of the most accomplished, most hardworking, and most inspiring people I’ve had the good fortune to meet, who have made the newsroom feel like a second home. There is, truly, nothing I’d rather be doing with my nights than crashing on the red couch, surrounded by easy chatter and the faint strains of Cupcakke.

Every day, without fail, I feel the happiest right after production, trekking home down tranquil, lamplit Trousdale — not because I get to leave, but because I get to come back and do it all again tomorrow.