Entering the College Football Playoff Semifinal as a student media member covering a national event, I didn’t know what to expect. While I have always been treated well as a member of student media, the ‘student’ title has often meant I didn’t get quite all the bells and whistles that professional media members are accustomed to.
When I look back on my week in Dallas, I no longer believe that I was here as a student media member. I was here, alongside my colleague Elizabeth Cotter, as a professional media member. Yes, we are students at IUPUI. Yes, we came to Dallas representing a university organization, but we were never treated as such.
Throughout the week, Elizabeth and I did the same things that the other media members did. We were given the same opportunities. We asked equally probing questions at press conferences. We worked late nights and early mornings producing work each day across multiple platforms. We worked alongside members of local and national media. We were never viewed as students, but always as professionals, giving us each a heightened confidence that when we graduate from IUPUI, we can certainly perform at the same professional level.
The best part of all of this was the respect we received from other media members who reached out to us every single day to make us feel like their equals. People from USA Today, The New York Times, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, NBC Sports, Washington Post, Tuscaloosa News, and many other outlets went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and confident this week. They always treated us as their peers rather than students and complimented us on our work. When it was appropriate or sought after, they offered valuable advice that Elizabeth and I will remember in our own journalism careers.
We were also greeted with the utmost respect and accommodations from the hospitality and event staffs throughout the week. Whether it was finding us an additional seat in the press box or serving us macaroni and cheese at 4:10 a.m., the people we met this week made this amazing experience even better.
When I graduate from IUPUI in May, I hope to pursue a long career in the sports journalism business, and this week has given me the confidence that I can do that. I made connections with people I admire, and they taught me the importance of humility. When I look back on this week, and other student media opportunities I have before I graduate, I’ll remember the experiences I had as a journalist, and I’ll pay no attention to whether or not the credential I wore said student media or not.
— Jessica Wimsatt | @Jessica_Wimsatt