There was only one month of my time at the University of Wisconsin where I was not involved at The Badger Herald, which is arguably the best secret fraternity on campus. For the last three and a half years, my head was always in some new venture or problem and I owe much of my professional success to the temperamental beast that is the Herald editorial department. Leaving is bittersweet.
“College girl grows up” is neither a unique nor new story to be sure, but at some point at the Herald, “maturity” stopped being just a word and smacked me in the face. I grew from being a mediocre beat editor to an award-winning writer. I have been part of a trio of news editors who, on a daily basis, defibrillated the news section during a particularly challenging semester. I learned how to work with assholes, and I realized with a creeping, reluctant understanding when I was being an asshole in turn. I have become friends with former rivals and learned from people I formerly taught. There were instances when I disappointed my fellow editors, sources and myself, but the gift of the daily news cycle is the fresh start of tomorrow’s work, which means learning quickly and not stewing on mistakes. To my great relief, I was recruited for a good job in a copywriting department for major retail chain right after graduation. This was due in no small part to my time as an editor. I have been very lucky.
I hope every student at UW finds their own place with like-minded people who support and challenge them. I encourage everyone to think about joining the Herald, whether they are a freshmen or senior. No two experiences are alike. Admittedly, it is not for everyone and it is not always easy. But for those who find their niche here, it is an organization like no other, especially for those seeking to be writers and journalists.
I was very lucky my job search ended on a very positive note. But as with any job search, it was laden with rejection as well as social and financial pressure that is inherent to approaching graduation day. I am blessed, for lack of a better word, writing will still be a part of my work going forward.
Copywriting makes the world go ’round, but writing stories will always be my passion. Now that I am no longer a part of my journalism coven and have a full-time job, very few people will hound me to know if I am writing, meeting deadlines and being creative off the clock. As long as I pay the bills on time, hold down a job and stay out of trouble, no one is going to cast a sideways glance at my daily goings on.
It is absurd to think my goals and dreams are anyone else’s responsibility but my own. It is up to me alone to keep finding and writing stories. While I have always known this to some extent, the realization somehow rings with a greater truth when I am sitting in the Milwaukee suburbs about to start the next chapter of stuff.
Working full-time is exhausting and rewarding on several levels, and I imagine the rhythm of a nine-to-five job and a steady paycheck being analogous to playing a single musical scale over and over – hypnotizing in both its repetition and harmony. The next challenge will be finding time to write my own things that are not complete trash. I anticipate it being harder than it sounds, but I am ready to give it a go.
From the people who pick up the Herald daily to the people who religiously comb through the Shout Outs exclusively, thank you for reading. It has been a pleasure.
Adelaide Blanchard (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a recent UW grad, a former Badger Herald editorial board chair, news editor and future member of The Badger Herald hall of fame.