Have I ever told you how much I love my job?
I get to work with some of the brightest, most talented students in the nation and watch them blossom.
And they don't just blossom into fine journalists. They also become lawyers, spokespeople, policy analysts, teachers ... name the profession, and chances are somebody with a journalism degree is working there.
I thought I'd share a few of these success stories by checking in with some of the folks you've gotten to know the past couple of years here in the opinion section.
Tracy wrote a weekly column during the spring of 2009. She dived head-first into the issues facing our city, offering opinions on Tasers, eminent domain, state spending and the Columbia Humane Society's push to win the $1 million makeover from Zootoo.com.
She just finished her first semester of law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is looking for a summer job where she can put her editing background to good use (I can vouch for her editing skills — she'd be a great hire). She's not quite sure what she wants to do after law school, but she's pondering media law or working for the FBI.
The man responsible for the Locally Grown series that ran this past summer graduated with a master's degree in December. His professional project explored different ways to promote sustainability, which Mike did through his series of columns in the Missourian and on the Locally Grown blog.
He didn't just write about the challenges and successes of living a more sustainable lifestyle, he chronicled his attempts through video and slideshows. He increased his skill set and met a personal goal of living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Mike will be the Peace Corps recruiter at MU through May, and he's also the volunteer coordinator for the MU Sustainability Office. He'll be job hunting in Columbia this spring, so if anyone's looking for a great sustainability blogger ...
As a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism, Andrew Del-Colle did a little bit of everything. He was an editor at Vox Magazine. He produced stories at Newsy.com. And he reported for the Missourian before moving over to the opinion section, where he wrote columns over the span of a year.
As an editorial assistant for Men's Health, he's doing the same thing. His primary responsibility is to the Eat This, Not That! website, where he writes and produces slideshows and e-newsletters. He also helps with editing and writing the Eat This, Not That! books.
Andrew also contributes to the Men's Health culture blog, The Cache, and is soon to debut on the food blog, Guy Gourmet. He also pitches and writes smaller stories and sidebars for the magazine and helps with a few bookkeeping duties.
"I'm a bit of a utility guy," he said.
Molly spent the summer writing columns for the Missourian in addition to producing infographics and working as an assistant city editor. She spent her last semester of college as the projects editor at The Maneater.
And now, it's off to Washington, D.C., for a 4-month internship with the Houston Chronicle. After that, she's a free agent.
"I might get a job or something someday," she said, displaying the same wit that defined her tenure as a columnist, "when it turns out I have to become a real adult."
Brian spent two semesters writing columns for the Missourian. For his efforts, he won the gold medal for best news column (under 55,000 circulation) at the Heart of America Awards this past summer.
Brian is now finishing up his master's degree in strategic communications in Brussels, where he's a social media intern for Procter & Gamble-Europe. His project will examine how overseas companies and news media use sites like Twitter and Facebook to frame messages that advance their causes.
He hopes to use that knowledge to further his own cause when he gets back: meaningful employment, preferably in the San Francisco area.
Erin had a pretty big year.
She earned her master's degree in August. She moved to Portland, Maine, for an internship with a stock photo agency. She won honorable mention for her column from the Missouri Press Association. And she ran her first 5K.
Erin did just about everything she could for the Missourian during her undergraduate and graduate days. Besides writing columns, she worked in the photo department as an editor and as assistant director of photography. She also designed multimedia projects and print pages.
Her internship ended recently, but she's decided to stay in Portland and look for work. With her skills both as a writer and as a visual journalist, I'm betting she won't be looking for long.
Family life is going well for Jen, a former night news editor for the Missourian who also contributed columns about becoming a mom. Baby Gus is almost a year and a half and is "definitely all boy," she says.
Among the usual toddler antics, Jen reports that she has to especially keep an eye on Gus when he's around the family dog, Daisy (cute side note: "Daisy" was Gus' first word). Gus is so enamored with Daisy, he even carries around a little photo album of his dog.
Daisy, you may remember, is a pit bull who spurred quite the conversation among Missourian readers when Jen wrote about how Daisy defies the stereotypes many people associate with pit bulls.
"Poor Daisy doesn't get much rest these days, but she has taken it all in stride," Jen says. "We couldn't ask for a better pooch."
Besides enjoying her life as a stay-at-home mom, Jen gets to scratch her journalistic itches with some freelance editing and Web design work.
Greg, a Missourian columnist during the fall of 2008, says he is both loving and second-guessing the pleasures and perils of living the life of a New York freelancer.
He is contributing to Bloomberg, Harvard's Nieman Lab, Poets & Quants and Ode magazine. He's *a community editor for Bundle, a personal-finance startup. He writes from a studio on the Lower East Side, just across from the Brooklyn Bridge. He's unfettered, so he can jet off for the Albanian coast or Southeast Asia whenever his bank account allows.
The downside: No health insurance. And no regular paycheck, but there are still lots of opportunities, he says.
"The new media landscape is beautifully open and full of opportunities for Mizzou kids," he said.
Katy, a reporter-researcher working on contract with Time, reports that journalism is anything but boring in Washington, D.C.
Katy's byline can regularly be found on the front page of Time.com, where she writes news features on a variety of subjects: politics, pop culture and science, to name just a few. She writes and puts together photo galleries for the website in addition to contributing to the Swampland politics and Healthland blogs. She's also begun working on videos as well.
Additionally, she writes shorter pieces for Time magazine and helps with fact-checking and research. Some days, she finds herself on Capitol Hill or at the White House for a press briefing. Other days, she's handling business in the office.
Katy spent 13 months writing a weekly column for the Missourian, from October 2008 to November 2009. She also worked as an editor for Vox.
Jake Sherlock is the opinion editor for the Missourian. If you have a viewpoint you'd like to share with the community, he'd like to talk to you about getting it published. Drop him a line at SherlockJ@missouri.edu or tweet him @jakesherlock.