It is odd being asked to write an advice column as an alumnus of The Villanovan, for a number of reasons. In part, it is hard to believe that I am old enough to offer anyone life advice. However, the main reason is that 10 years ago, 18-year-old me went to college with no intention at all of getting involved with the newspaper.
This column coincides almost to the day nine years ago when I started with The Villanovan. I had been an editor and writer in high school and always had a strong interest in journalism and design. No wait. That was actually my co-editor-in-chief.
I was the guy who spent half of his senior year in high school lobbying the school newspaper to print an article on blimp attack preparedness.
Like a lot of the good and really important things that happen to you, my career at The Villanovan was not something I put much thought into at the time.
Some guys from my hall were joining a fraternity. Not being the fraternity bro type, this left me with a lot of free time. After about two weeks of playing PS2, I decided I should do something more constructive. Armed with a rudimentary understanding of English grammar, I took my talents to 201 Dougherty Hall.
I started at the copy desk, and my ambitions did not extend far beyond that. I would write some articles, eat some free Campus Corner and maybe become Copy Desk Chief. Still, something funny happened. I found myself staying later. Soon I was helping design layouts and pulling an all-nighter for the basketball preview. I knew I was hooked when Campus Corner pulled their account and I still showed up.
Thinking back on it, it is amazing how one little decision changed my life. Odds are you have a plan of where you want to be when you graduate.
I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do when I got to Villanova, and it definitely did not involve working 40 hours a week at a job that paid you in free takeout. But I had always enjoyed writing, and decided, if only for those four years, to give journalism a shot. I walked into the office in February of my freshmen year with no knowledge of the AP Style Book.
Three years later I walked out as editor-in-chief. If you need another example, seven years ago I asked the sports editor out for some cereal. This weekend, we picked out our wedding invitations.
Speaking from experience, college goes by pretty quickly. Make sure to take advantage of anything and everything you might be interested in while you are there. You might want to take a class in Irish Literature or Renaissance Painting. Or play intramural soccer. Or volunteer to build houses. Just do it, and don’t think twice about the decision.
It will not keep you from getting where you want to go. In fact, you may actually end up finding a path you had not considered. You might not end up making a career out of journalism (I didn’t), but sometimes you end up marrying the sports editor. And that can be pretty cool, too.