I went into the convention with the intention of being open to whatever experiences it led to, but my only goal was to have the experience and to learn something from it. Many people touted the networking opportunities the convention would provide, and I was open to that idea. I failed at being a networking machine, but I think I achieved my goal.
The first day offered special workshop sessions that required advance reservations to attend. I skipped those and opted to spend most of the day touring Hollywood and the surrounding areas. I wasn’t the only one playing hooky—I met two other convention-goers on the sightseeing tour. Tip for anyone interested in a double-decker bus trip: Wear sunscreen! I returned just in time for the student and new attendee mixers, where I hoped to make a friend or two to wander the convention with me in the coming days.
I met several people, but made no actual friends, just one “single serving” friend; it was a friendship of convenience that lasted for only the duration of the convention.
Many students came from more “prestigious” universities, which was slightly intimidating, but I was glad to be there to represent my school. I was surprised to find that there were non-journalism majors attending the convention. I wonder if it is better to be a major at a small school with a great journalism program (ahem, like mine!), or to attend a well-known university an be an English major who works on the student newspaper.
I’m not a neutral player in this game, but I think that the former is the better option. Though many people I talk to outside of school think that journalism and English courses must overlap, they don’t. My classes are tailored specifically to reporting, news writing and editing, and mass media law, whereas my English major friends are learning about things like modern British literature and poetry. I usually explain that my major is almost like attending a trade school. I cannot see how students can learn all this specialized information as well through a few weeks training before they begin writing for their school’s publication. But that’s just me.
Speaking with other students was interesting, but at times I felt a tension. Though we were supposed to be united by our common career ambitions, there was also a distance. Many people I talked to acknowledged the tough job market that we will be entering soon, and it was like meeting the competition. I also noticed a line between broadcast and print people. I was one of the few on the print side, which led to dead air on occasion.
Perhaps my inclination toward print, specifically editing, says something about my personality. I tend to be more of an observer, I don’t like to schmooze. If I meet people, I want genuine interactions, not just a quick exchange of business cards.