Work is fun

TEN MONTHS since my last post and man oh man, does time fly. It’s funny how things seem to go by so fast, and yet so much can happen.

The last time I wrote here, I was just getting started up as an intern at Grantland. I had an incredible time there, I met some amazing people, but sadly now this is splashed across the home page.

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In the midst of my time with Grantland, I graduated with cum laude from Pepperdine University (believe it or not, I managed to have decent grades!). From there, I spent the summer in NYC interning for MLB.com. While at MLB.com, I was looking for other potential jobs and landed a spot on the social desk over at SB Nation. I wound up working both MLB and SB Nation remotely as I moved back home to Los Angeles.

Phew.

Tomorrow I start full time with For The Win at USA Today.

Time. Flies. To be super cliche and cheesy, I feel like I graduated just yesterday.

Looking back on my time in college and at all the internship/work experience I was able to collect, my advice to anyone in school would be to keep working and never stop. Working for the school paper is great and very necessary, but don’t be satisfied with just that. Go out and intern, freelance, and keep writing for your school paper. It sounds overwhelming. The secret is it’s really not — it’s actually fun!

For me, internships and freelance jobs were a nice break from school and the newspaper. I don’t regret a second of overcommitment. If you really love it, it’s so, so worth it. And I can’t wait to see what the next 10 months will bring.

Life comes at you fast

I’d like to start my apologizing for not posting in a while. Things have been crazy. And I’m not sure whether I’ll continue writing on this particular blog post-undergrad or whether I’ll reformat it … we’ll see where life takes it. 

At the start of my senior year, just this past August 2014, I was filled with uncertainty.

I earned a strong leadership position with Pepperdine Graphic Media (PGM) as the Executive Editor. I was coming off a high from an exciting AAJA Washington, DC, conference trip. In the moment, things were good, yet this is senior year. The scary one. The year where everyone asks, “So, what are you going to do after you graduate?”

Per usual, I began to panic. What am I going to do with my life? These NBA draftees are younger than I am. Should I consider grad school? Am I even going to graduate undergrad? Thankfully, as so often happens in life, everything sorted itself out.

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 12.28.53 AMDuring an Uber ride in DC (I was actually on my way to tour the NPR building), I accepted an opportunity to write sports pieces for CCN, a new AOL.com project that was in the works. During my first few weeks as PGM Executive Editor, I stocked up writing for the CCN launch on the side. It turned out to be an incredibly valuable experience, and I’m still contributing and will continue to write for CCN until I graduate.

As I built up my archives at AOL.com, a professor at school messaged me an app to intern with Grantland in the spring — “I really think you’d be the perfect fit,” he said. I applied on a whim, not counting on hearing back. This is Bill Simmons’ Grantland. I worship this site. I did hear back, and I ended up snagging a spot in their internship program. All while that was happening, I had applied for the SJI summer internship program. I landed that too. Both of these acceptances occurred within the span of a week. I was left speechless.

This wasn’t the case of me dropping in two applications out of the blue and getting lucky. Over the course of my time at Pepperdine, I’ve sent in tons of applications to companies from Mashable to Fox Sports Radio to AVP Beach Volleyball. It’s been quite the ride. Some of my apps resulted in ultimately fruitless interviews, many others resulted in no response.

The most important lesson I have learned is to apply for spots you sincerely want. It sounds stupid and like common sense, but weird things happen when you’re desperate. The summer after my sophomore year, I was desperate to land an internship — anything. I ended up interviewing at some marketing firm (???) out in Los Angeles. For whatever reason my application intrigued them and I spent about 15 minutes in their office trying to sound like I was passionate about marketing.

Fortunately, they saw straight through me and I never heard back. I say fortunately because instead I ended up interning for Telescope Magazine that summer – just read their “About” page and you’ll understand why that internship was worthwhile. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true: one door closes and another will open.

Landing a reputable internship also requires patience. For me, I didn’t land that perfect gig on the first try. I had to work my way up through smaller websites to build my portfolio in order to have a chance at the bigger companies.

To round it out, the grind never stops. News doesn’t sleep, and neither does sports. Games can stretch for eternity and hot topics constantly flare up. Plus, the media world is changing with the times. You have to hustle to keep the pace. But that’s what I love so much about it. As the saying goes, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Slowing down to catch up

Life moves at a rapid pace. There are times when it can feel like everyone around you is working toward something. They walk with deafening purpose. You must follow or catch up, or you’ll fall back and fail.

I feel myself thinking in those terms quite often. Work. Work. Work. There’s always something happening, someone else is always advancing, if I make a wrong step I’ll miss out.

I’m in the summer before my senior year, currently dabbling in a bit of freelancing for a Downtown Los Angeles based newspaper, so I’ve had a couple months to catch my breath. I was randomly looking through my book shelf, and came across a book that I’ve heard a lot about yet have never gotten around to reading: “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

I gave it a shot and couldn’t put it down. The story is gripping. A student with no real purpose in life (the author, Mitch Albom) comes across a professor in college who he is drawn to immediately. They lose touch after Albom graduates from undergrad. He eventually goes to grad school for journalism and builds a life in the sports media industry.

One day he catches his old professor, Morrie Schwartz, on “Nightline,” and learns that Schwartz is suffering from ALS. Albom goes to visit Schwartz, and they soon pick up a routine of meeting on Tuesdays. They converse about life and other topics, which Albom writes about in the book.

Albom, a busy, fast-paced, hardworking journalist finds a sense of peace in breaking his hectic routine to visit his dying friend. And reading the book makes you feel as if you’re taking the journey with Albom, as a fly on the wall during their Tuesday talks.

Additionally, Albom includes little anecdotes in between the chapters. For example, one being about a time in class in which Schwartz had them play the faith game (the one where you fall back into a stranger’s arms). It provides a striking point from Schwartz:

“Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel” (61).

I reread the passages like that one a few times over — it gets you thinking, contemplating life. Something to sincerely appreciate about the book is that it isn’t a religious sermon. Schwartz nor Albom is preaching a specific belief to the masses. It’s simply candid, unfiltered conversations about life.

Another gem I’m sure many can relate to comes up as they have a talk about money:

“Do the kind of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back” (128).

And about marriage:

“Love each other or perish” (149).

A piece of advice that Schwartz repeats to Albom many times is that you must learn to die in order to live. Taking into consideration this book and the millions of copies it’s sold, the people it’s touched, that rings eerily true. Based off what Albom writes, Schwartz appreciated almost every moment of his life in a way that allowed him to embrace his own inevitable death.

It made me think about what’s important in life — all the little things. Live with purpose, because at the end of the road, the fame and fortune fades away. You’re only left with family and those you touched along the way.

 

 

Learning to take what life gives me

I played in organized basketball leagues for 12 years of my life, including three years of high school ball. The coaching phrases are still stuck in my head to this day:

“Follow your shot!”

“Take her!”

“Stay in front!”

Having played basketball for so long (I still play in college intramural leagues and pick-up games), sometimes I’ll find myself subconsciously intertwining my life with the sport. One phrase has stood out to me recently: “Take what the defense gives you.”

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Coaches will say it when their teams are forcing plays. For instance, my coach would have an entire list of about 20 plays that he would call out; however, if we became too focused on running those, we’d miss wide open lanes to the hoop.

In order to prevent that from happening, we had to be aware of not only the hand signals our coach was making from the bench, but also of the movements and rotations of the opposition. After a multitude of games and playing under various coaches, the sense of heightened awareness almost became second-nature.

As I’m readying myself to enter my senior year at Pepperdine University, I’m discovering that — a similar lesson — taking what life gives me is a solid approach to fall back on. For most of my life I’ve felt like I needed to have a plan to hold on to, and that if I didn’t, I’d be a failure. I set my sights on sports journalism. It’s a tough, competitive career path, and I know that the pure passion I have for writing and sports can propel me to be successful (hopefully).

Now, I feel a bit unsteady. I have an end goal, but my vision is blurry. The unknowns are overwhelming. That’s where the basketball-esque phrase comes in.

Take what life gives you.

This past semester I interned at KNBC Sports. I had no real prior broadcast experience, yet the opportunity suddenly arose so I snagged it. It was incredible to have an inside view of one of the premier Los Angeles television news networks. My next step, though, isn’t quite there. I’m a writer at heart, but there is such an abundance of other creative outlets — design, photography, videography — that I have barely tapped into.

Exercise 7

This is where I’ll take what life gives me. My ultimate goal is to work for a professional sports website or magazine. Until I get there, I’ll seize any other opportunities that cross my path. I’ve come to realize that forcing fate doesn’t always turn out precisely the way it is intended to. If I’m called to follow the winding path with detours and bumps, I’m fine with that. After all, I flew to London for my sophomore year and that didn’t turn out so bad.

Moving forward, I’ll take what life gives me, live with no regrets and do everything in my power to pursue my dreams. I hope you’ll do the same.

 

Live like there’s no tomorrow

I bought my copy of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” in the bookstore of the British Library in London, which I find hilarious. I felt compelled to do so after seeing the actual manuscript of the book that was on display at the time. All these British people around me were discussing “America,” and I felt un-American not having read Kerouac’s piece. So I did in the summer of 2013.

It started off slow. But once I got into it, I got into it. His writing style is unique, upbeat and refreshing. On March 12, it was Kerouac’s birthday.

Reading his book changed my life — it made a dent in my view of the world. In “On the Road,” the voice he manifests is so compelling that I couldn’t help but feel drawn in. The idea of driving across the country, hitchhiking and living day-by-day with no worries is an incredible one to daydream about. The heartbreak and the recklessness had me on edge.

I also went on to read Kerouac’s “Beat Generation,” and I got the same vibe. He lived with this daring vigor that made me want to travel the world, and go out and experience everything I’ve yet to experience. I’m attempting to channel Kerouac’s passion for life into my own.

“I was surprised, as always, be how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

Whenever I write something, I hope to exude the wild, crazy fervor that Kerouac had. He was reflective yet never stuck in one spot. We could all use a little Kerouac in our lives. Go out and conquer the world. Don’t worry about the “might-nots,” only plunge forward — and don’t glance back.