Reflections of a student journalist

How to achieve your professional dream, even if you’re not sure what it is.

The+Girls+Business+and+Entrepreneurship+Program+in+Mexico+City+with+female+pollster+for+the+independent+newspaper+El+Reforma+at+the+center.

The Girls Business and Entrepreneurship Program in Mexico City with female pollster for the independent newspaper El Reforma at the center.

Abby Givens, Editor in chief

Over the course of my high school experience at Annie Wright Schools, I have had the fortune of meeting with a pollster in Mexico City, an editor at The New York Times, a recruiter for Google, and many other individuals. In these meetings, whether it be with the student news organization Inkwell or the Girls’ Business and Entrepreneurship Program, I was inspired and awed by the host’s intelligence and passion. 

In these meetings, however, there was also the unsettling moment when we, as a group of high school students, were asked what we wanted to do in the future, what field we wanted to go into. I have long struggled to answer this question, and these meetings were forcing me to confront my uncertainty. Sometimes I said something with sustainability, other times I mentioned political science, but honestly I had no idea.

These professionals seemed so sure, so I thought maybe if I could spend more time with them, if I could absorb more of their expertise, that I would get more clarity for myself. So to begin this process, I connected with each on LinkedIn. I then reached out to several of these individuals. Some responded and others didn’t. After developing questions about their process in arriving at their current profession and advice they have for youth trying to navigate or plan that process for themselves, I talked with them on the phone. 

Through these interviews I began to get a better idea not just of specific industries but also of who these experts are as people and how to ask the questions to get the kind of illustrative and insightful answers I was looking for. I listened back to the interviews, transcribed them, and pulled points and quotes that I thought should be highlighted. I then published them on a website I called “How I Did That” inspired by NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast with Guy Raz. 

As these posts and interviews accumulated, I realized a few things. For one, no one’s life turned out how they had planned or thought it would, so I shouldn’t expect that for my own life. For two, the only way to work towards success, whatever that means, is to take advantage of the opportunities currently at your disposal and earnestly pursue the ones that you are interested in. In the words of Forbes 30 Under 30 founder Emily Kennedy, successful people “either pick themselves up the fastest or if they get some sort of rejection when they’re moving towards a goal, they find another way to make it happen.”

So, the biggest lesson that I have to share from this project is that while the future is uncertain, it will surely be more navigable if you have individuals more experienced and knowledgeable to reference and go to for inspiration.