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 Stories for April 29, 1998:

Regular Features:

Growing Up

by Tamara Keith, Student Reporter
posted Apr. 29, 1998

When I was in sixth grade I won a public service announcement contest called “when I grow up.” I was invited to the local TV studio, where I read off the teleprompter about my desire to become a volcanologist (a person who studies volcanos, not Leonard Nemoy and pals) while images of an erupting Killawea flashed behind me on a blue screen.

That experience made me decide that spending my days hopping around in molten lava might not be the most productive use of my skills. I was fascinated by TV land – the technology, the friendly people whose faces were caked with way too much make-up, and the power of the product they created.

Within days of publicly announcing my ambition to be a volcanologist, I realized that I would much rather be a journalist. Since then, I have done my best to surround myself with the news (without becoming the news, of course) at every possible moment. Hey, osmosis works for thousands of organisms, why not me?

When I was 12 years old, “growing up” was a distant and elusive thing. At that age, pimples and cute boys were far more important than career goals. Now all that has changed. Although I may be dealing with some of the same issues, questions like “what in the world am I going to do after graduation?” and “how exactly does one get a job?” have taken center stage in my daily thoughts.

I haven’t changed my mind about what I want to be when I grow up and I’ve also realized that dreams don’t miraculously become a reality when you hit a certain age. Last time I checked, my fairy godmother wasn’t on her way down from the heavens with a magical wand designed to turn me into a journalist. So that means I have a lot of work ahead of me.

At this point I have more questions than answers. I have asked a number of people about their careers. They all arrived at their current places in life by totally different means, none of which seem right for me. It seems that my yellow brick road has a fork every couple steps, and I can only guess which direction is the right one.

How does one take that huge leap from the sheltered world of college life to the painfully honest world of employment? How do you go from writing for the student newspaper to writing for a regional daily where lack of practice isn’t an excuse? How do you move from watching the nightly news to reporting the nightly news?

All of the encouraging bosses, proud parents and friendly career center staff in the world can’t make me feel like my future is well defined or even remotely certain. All I can really do is act on my determination and hope luck will do the rest.

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