I’d never even thought about working for The Oswegonian when, at the start of my sophomore year, a stranger who would later become my best friend convinced me to join.
Aimee Hirsch, whom I then knew only as my co-worker at the Writing Center, told me there was a copy editor position available. She said she thought I’d be a good fit.
If I’d been up against any competition at all, I wouldn’t have gotten the job. I was clueless about AP style, copy editing symbols looked like meaningless squiggles to me and I didn’t know the first thing about journalism, literally—I didn’t know what a lead was. But the very next week, there my name was on the masthead: “Copy Editor | Amanda Bintz.”
The Oswegonian has always given me the unexpected. I didn’t expect to like working on a newspaper, let alone so much so that by my senior year, I would hold the second-highest editorial position on the staff. I didn’t expect 90 percent of my friend group at Oswego to be made up of Oswegonian staff members, past and present. I didn’t expect I’d find my boyfriend in a fellow copy editor. Most of all, I didn’t expect a dingy, stuffy office full of old newspapers and broken red pens to become my favorite place on campus.
Before I joined The Oswegonian, I was a quitter. I had almost nothing to put on my college applications because I had quit everything I ever joined: band, chorus, dance, drama club, soccer—I could go on. As soon as it got inconvenient for me, I quit. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it or wasn’t good. I think I could have gotten a big part in my school plays or contributed something to the soccer team, but I never stayed with anything long enough to get good.
The Oswegonian was the first thing I stuck with. I gave up the Oxford comma, Wednesday and Thursday nights, hundreds of dollars in late-night snacks, countless hours of sleep and a few A’s on my transcript. In return, I got some of my best friends, an impressive LinkedIn profile and resume, a career path, a loving and fulfilling romantic relationship and the sense that when I graduate in May, I’ll be ready for anything.
I’m not trying to recruit for The Oswegonian here, I swear. (But by all means, feel free to join!) The Oswegonian was just one of the many paths I could have taken. I got so much out of it not only because it is an exciting, challenging and stressful place to work, but because I never gave up on it. From there, all the good, totally unexpected things in my life sprung forth: All because I said yes, and didn’t quit.
What your guidance counselor, your family, the Laker Leaders and this college’s administration and faculty said from the start was true: Getting involved in college matters. Join something new and don’t give up on it just because it’s hard. You’re not just here to go to class and get a degree. You’re here to start your life, and the first step to that is to find something you want to pursue when you leave here.
A lot of my friends are feeling directionless as graduation looms. I’m scared, but at least I know where I’m going.
Four years goes by fast. Start looking.