For my spring semester at Valencia High, I was given the opportunity to shadow a business professional somewhere in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The point of this exercise was to introduce me, a high school senior soon to be embarking out into the real world on his own, to the reality of what your dream career is truly like.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I briefly considered working with the school psychologist, and the lazier part of me simply wanted to shadow my mother’s boss at the recruiting firm where she’s employed.
However, due to a burgeoning desire to pursue some sort of career in the journalism field, I asked my teacher for the names of any local newspapers, and she gave me the only one that mattered: the Santa Clarita Signal.
I’ll admit that I was nervous the first time I entered the newsroom. I had started the assignment not truly taking the prospect of pseudo-employment seriously, but as I got closer to the glass doors, the task at hand felt less like an assignment and more like my first job interview.
I waited in the front room for a while as the receptionist went to get Perry Smith, the deputy managing editor. Perry and I had contacted each other the week prior, and me emailing him was the whole reason I was there in the first place. Perry invited me to his office where I explained the purpose of my assignment to him. I was prepared to some skepticism on his side, but to my surprise, he excitedly jumped at the offer of taking me under his wing for the coming months.
Unbeknownst to me, that would be the first of many great interactions at the Signal.
The newsroom was even busier than I expected. It was by no means chaotic, but there was a sense of urgency in the air.
I later learned that this excess of energy was due to the newsroom’s need to stay up to date on stories; the next big scoop could occur at any moment, and it often does. Due to this, not only do articles have to be completed quickly, but they also have to be completed truthfully.
Credibility is at stake, and although the editor is the one who checks for typos and grammar errors, everyone is trusted to maintain a certain level of quality. Cooperation between staff members is also a key aspect of work in the office, as some articles can belong to multiple “beats,” or categories, and writers from different departments may have to work together in order to ensure that such stories are as accurate as can be.
Print journalists aren’t the only ones with a job to do at the Signal. Many are tasked with updating and managing the online page for the paper, keeping it up to date and making sure that it functions as it’s supposed to. Others are involved in the multimedia department, which involves the recording and editing of videos, the purpose of which is to give viewers a more detailed view into various stories reported on by the Signal.
In all honesty, though, the business relations within the office make up only a small fraction of the communication between the great men and women who make up this team.
Everyone in the office treats each other like a close friend, constantly cracking jokes and spending time outside of work together. There’s a great sense of camaraderie present here, and it’s not limited to those who have worked here the longest. Everyone here has been nothing but kind to me since Day One. I’m assuming that it’s because a large amount of the staffers here have been in my position before they got to where they are today; a complete novice just beginning to dip their toes into the pool that is the American workforce. If I have a question, they don’t hesitate to answer it. If I need advice regarding my potential future in journalism, they’ll gladly inform me on which steps I need to take once I leave high school.
Perry, in particular, has made for an amazing mentor. He’s been incredibly warm to me and has encouraged me to pursue a future career in journalism, arming me with the proper tools and knowledge necessary to make a name for myself in this ever-interesting field. I have felt incredibly welcome since the beginning of my time here, and I’m incredibly grateful that I made the decision to complete my assignment in this office.
The world of journalism is truly an interesting field. Although I originally believed it to be nothing more than writing stories, this career has so many different aspects and dimensions to it that the possibilities for a future in such a field are virtually endless. The Signal has honestly opened my eyes to just how important, interesting, and enjoyable journalism is, and I have gained an experience here that cannot be gained or replicated anywhere else. I’m immensely grateful to the staff of the Signal for giving me the privilege of spending many of my afternoons with them and learning about journalism directly from the sources. It’s because of them that I really do feel ready to move forward with my goal of becoming a journalist truly worthy of recognition.
Lucas Nava will be entering the University of Missouri to study journalism this fall.