Welcoming the newest group of rock stars

Back in May, I started what I called a post-grad group with my former students with the express purpose of helping them hone their journalism skills and network. I thought it would lift their spirits as they got out of school facing a job market that was, in many ways, non-existent. And personally, I’d grown attached to them and wasn’t ready to let them go.

Now, 13 weeks later, the time has come to end it.

Starting that group is one of the cooler things I’ve done in teaching. We heard from experts on feature writing, interviewing, branding, investigating, idea generation, free lancing, social media, race and politics. We heard from representatives of Spectrum Sports, Bleacher Report, the N&O, the Charlotte Observer, Twitter, the Athletic, the Panthers, UNC, the Washington Post, Emily’s List and a former columnist with the Detroit Free Press. (And I have one more visit to transcribe and post.) Rock stars, all.

Each of the professionals I asked to join us for 45 minutes answered with an immediate “Yes.” They were all generous with their time and advice. Every one offered their emails so that the students could reach out for advice whenever. (And that has happened.) One of my goals was that students would have a network of professionals who have been where they are and have flourished.

But all good things run their course. Attendance has dwindled because some in the group have gotten jobs or the time is inconvenient or other things — life! –get in the way. The meetings were always casual; people came when the could. And, school has started up again for me.

I may have gotten more out of it than the alums. I mourn every May when my students graduate and go on to seek their fortunes. We’ve worked together in courses, and, in some cases, shared some moments. I miss them. I got to stay connected with my former students for a little longer, and that was fun and fulfilling.

I always say this because I believe it: This generation of journalists will be better than the last. They’re smarter and savvier. I am proud of them all and grateful for the time they gave me.And the 2020 graduating class will be extra special because they graduated in a pandemic and are thriving despite it.

Welcome the newest class of rock stars!