Cihacekj’s Weblog

August 25, 2008

Miss anything BUT a catalyst for complacency

Filed under: Education — Jessica Cihacek @ 7:00 pm

Greetings from the Cornhusker state!

My name is Jessica Nicole (Gabriele) Cihacek.  Please, call me Jess.  I am a senior Broadcast Journalism major at UNL.  I’m minoring in political science with concentrations in history and english.

My first steps in the broadcast world began before high school.  It was Christmas 1998, when I made myself an anchor backdrop out of the chalkboard I received from Santa and turned his Teacher Barbie gift into Reporter Barbie.  While my brother was quick to leave the room whenever Dad turned Bloomberg on, I remember watching alongside him thinking, “Wow, I wish I was Lori Rothman!”  It was probably between gawking over a few other reporters and hearing my Dad say, “I could see you doing that, Jess,” that I started thinking like a journalist.  I was nosy with everything, and as my parents would say, I was “an audacious little fart.” Laugh now, but while little girls were dreaming of being teachers, movie stars, and ballet dancers, I wanted to report.

My Junior year in high school, I worked part time in West Point, Neb. at the local radio station, formerly known as KWPN-KTIC Rural Radio.  I helped host the Sunday morning show, which consisted of call-in competitions, national/local news and weather updates.  On weekdays, I worked at the front desk answering phones and filing papers.  I was even required to come in during severe weather and report the current conditions. Getting my feet wet at an early age only increased my enthusiasm for becoming a reporter someday.

I quickly learned that radio was not my style.  I have always been a visual person, and television was just so much more exciting.  I became active in the National Broadcasting Society my first year at the University.  After traveling with the group to Indianapolis and D.C. for regional competitions, I was frustrated that my introductory classes and prerequisites provided me with nothing to submit for competition.  I was getting bored with the curriculum involved with broadcast journalism.  The only other thing I loved surrounding myself was kids.  Did I dare have second thoughts?  Was I really considering elementary education?  My confused and discouraged self probed me to phone home.  My Mom was quick to put things in perspective, though.  “You’ll be a great mother some day, but you haven’t even given Journalism a shot.  Stick it out another year, work harder if you’re bored.  We’ll support you.”

Nothing has ever made more sense.  I did just that and began interning with KLKN Channel 8 in Lincoln, Neb.  I was going out on shoots and shadowing anchors and reporters.  I was renting video cameras from UNL, producing mock news packages, and reading teleprompters like it was my job.  Rarely, though, am I content with being comfortable.  Once again, boredom began to set it.  I decided to apply for a bigger internship a little further from home, a little further from my comfort zone and a lot further from familiarity.  Why not the East Coast?  Why not New York City?  Why not CBS News?  And heck, why not for the summer?

It was a long application process, in which I spent nearly four months working on.  I told no one in my family what I was concocting.  I knew what they’d say.  “Too expensive, too dangerous, too far-fetched, too unpredictable, etc.”  I received a congratulatory packet in January, reminded my Mom of her “we’ll support you” speech, started saving, and was off.  I traveled to the Big Apple at the end of May and was officially and intern at CBS Headquarters for the weekend evening news.  Here, I learned much more than any local station could teach me.

This huge learning curve only made me itch for a real reporting job, already!  While I fell prey to the “I heart NY” seduction scheme, being on the West Coast made me actually fall in love with Boston, my dream location.

So, here I am, finishing my last year at the University.  I plan on pursuing at least one more internship before my college career wraps up, and then I’ll begin dispersing resume tapes in hopes of landing a local job as a general assignment reporter.  Much later down the road?  I aspire to be part of the New England Cable News Network, while residing in Red Sox nation.

Now, of course, I’ve learned firsthand that plans always seem to change.  I’ve learned that working hard is the only means to an end.  But I’ve also learned that without a plan and without hard work, I’m only a catalyst for complacency.


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