By Owen Kaelble
Owen Kaelble is a sports journalism graduate student who works at the Ruth Lilly Medical Library helping IU School of Medicine researchers.
I started pursuing my Master’s in Sports Journalism at IUPUI in Fall of 2020. Then, in August 2021, I landed a job at the Ruth Lilly Medical Library at the IU School of Medicine on campus. I had over eight years of library experience working for the Indianapolis Public Library system and in Fishers. When I accepted the job, I knew that working full-time job would change my life in numerous ways, but I admit to not being prepared for all the changes heading my way.
Going into the Fall 2021 semester, I was enrolled in two classes and was all set to begin the school year. But I got to thinking about trying to balance schoolwork with my new job, so I decided to cut my schedule to one class. Then, after thinking about it even more, I opted to not take classes for the semester so that I could get used to my job. It ended up being the right decision.
Although I enjoy my job — I love helping people and libraries around the world locate articles from medical journals — working full-time takes a lot out of you. Even during the fall semester when I had no classes to worry about, I still at times felt overwhelmed. Partly because I was still doing plenty of writing.
I freelance for Softball America, an online softball publication. I’m a softball fanatic; I love the sport and how much it’s growing. Writing about softball gives me the opportunity to talk to players, coaches, and athletic departments. It’s a gateway to another world and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. But at the end of the day, it’s still a big time commitment.
When January 2022 came around, I decided to sign up for a class again, and I knew I was signing up for yet another challenge. Since then, I’ve been balancing a graduate class, a full-time job, and a freelance position. How have I done it? The truth is, there is no trick. I’ve learned through trial and error. My class this semester is Sports Writing. While it has been a great class and I highly recommend it, it’s not easy to balance with a full-time job. The class requires work outside of school, including going to late night events.
I have learned that I’m not Superman. I can’t do everything I want to in a single day. So I break tasks into chunks: On Monday, I’m going to get this interview done and start on this paper, maybe get 500 words in. On Tuesday, I’m going to transcribe quotes from the interview and continue on my paper, maybe 500 more words. On Wednesday, I’m going to start on my softball article. All of this has to be done in the evening since I don’t have time during the day.
I have found that this strategy works, but it often needs adjusting. For example, if I find out I’m going to cover a game on a Friday and I was originally going to work on a paper, I have to switch things around. It’s not a perfect strategy, and like most things in adult life it can get tiring. But when you do accomplish your tasks it feels pretty good.
My time management skills were put to the test when I traveled to New Orleans in April to cover the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four with IUPUI’s Sports Capital Journalism Program. My classmate Zach Powell and I, under the guidance of program director Malcolm Moran, spent hours upon hours in the media workroom in the Superdome writing and editing our stories, sometimes not leaving for the night until after three in the morning. All that writing was so worth it to be in the same building as 70,000 screaming fans and having the best seats in the house to witness one of the most incredible events in all of sports. It was an experience I will never forget. I met people I never thought I would in my life. Enthralled would be a good adjective to describe the experience.
My boss at the library was incredibly supportive of me taking this trip and didn’t even have a second thought of making sure I could go. I am very lucky and very blessed to have such a supportive boss because many people are not so lucky! The same goes for my boss at Softball America. She knew I would be busy writing basketball articles and wanted me to experience the Final Four without having to worry.
My overall career goal is to work in sports somehow, someway – however, I don’t know exactly in what capacity. I’m making so many connections through the sports journalism master’s program that I am confident I will find my own way.
I’ve also learned that it’s perfectly okay to change your path or to change your dreams. If you start working a new job that has nothing to do with sports or academia and you enjoy it, keep at it. Your life is not set in stone. It’s easy to feel like you have to absolutely know where you’re going, but the truth is, most people don’t. You find out where you’re going on the way, not at the beginning.
You can connect with Kaelble on Twitter.