In my time at Ohio University, I’ve either not taken advantage of some of the networking opportunities made available to me or found that those opportunities were never very substantial. Traveling with the OU School of Media Arts And Studies to the music, film and technology conference and festival that is South By Southwest in Austin, Texas this weekend is the first time I’ve ever felt like an OU program worked to my benefit and provided the opportunities I always thought college would afford me.
Many of my fellow seniors and I have been reflecting on our time here at OU and wondering if we made the right decision. Not whether or not to go to college — that was always an expectation placed upon us — but more so questioning if we chose the right major.
For us in creative fields — journalism, film, media studies, art, English, etc. — our jobs are determined by the work we produce largely outside of class. I don’t send class prepared articles as clips for jobs and internships; I send pieces I’ve written for other publications.
I’ve learned a lot in some of my classes and others have been a total waste of time, but none of the classes I took here prepared me for the job market as much as going out and doing the job I love. Ostensibly, I could have done that without the degree.
But, as an aspiring music journalist, this trip to SXSW was different, very enticing and relevant to my line of work. I met some of my favorite journalists to date, including Bob Boilen and Ann Powers of NPR music, Jaan Uhelszki, who co-founded the infamous Creem Magazine and Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times, who staved off his cranky nature long enough to talk with me and give me some advice.
The first night there, our advisor pointed down from the balcony overlooking the stage where an incredible band, Torres had just performed, to tell me one of my music journalist idols, Greg Kott of the Chicago Tribune, was standing amongst the crowd. Not five minutes after that, I had to gather my shaken, nervous composure to talk to another accomplished journalist and OU alum, Chris DeVille — now with Stereogum. I even had a chance encounter sitting next to the timeless Rolling Stone editor David Fricke.
None of those encounters would have been possible on my own. It’s only through OU and this program that I came away with several job and internship opportunities upon graduation. Even if they don’t pan out in the short term, it’s a connection and another opportunity down the line.
I gag a little bit anytime people talk about OU pride and how prOUd they are of their fellow bobcats for representing the school. But, I feel like one of those people I’ve so scorned. I lost count of how many times people mentioned “the Ohio group” and the number of compliments we received on how we presented ourselves. It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I hope the connections I’ve formed there will lead to more life changing events. Thanks for that, OU.
Ugh, I hate that I’m one of those people.
I’ll be writing more throughout this week about my favorite acts and things I observed at SXSW, but for now, I just want to sink into an endless sleep.
William Hoffman is a senior studying Journalism at Ohio University and is Digital Content Manager at The Post. Want to know something about this year’s SXSW? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.