I figured I wouldn't be at my first newspaper more than a year. I'd pay my dues and bolt. So I didn't spend a lot of my time digging into the place, learning about the history, culture and people.
And I think that cost me a few good stories reporting that could have improved my portfolio. Looking back, I wish I had spent a bit more time getting out and about and getting plugged in.
I was so nervous about finding a job. I didn't do my homework and research some of the areas in which I might work. Three days before I started my first job, the county voted to begin selling beer and wine. Yikes! I almost moved into a dry county.
In school, I learned the basics of public records and the basics were hardly enough.
It is indeed very important to do your homework before moving somewhere. I, too, was super stressed about finding work out of school and, to be honest, nothing would have deterred me from taking that offer when it was extended. But while there was no doubt I would go I wish I had done more research about the place before I got there.
I learned very quickly that many people living in the county where I held down my first beat barely had a high school education much less a college degree. My college experience right away made me markedly different, which was a stumbling block in those first months when I was trying to develop sources. (I learned to talk the talk if you know what I mean really fast.) The way I dressed when I was poking around town on my off-time Birkenstocks, fraternity T-shirts, baggie jeans shorts, braided belts and bracelets (a real Hippie chick, I was) was enough to raise eyebrows. Even the things I put in my shopping cart veggies, tofu, ground turkey, fat-free yogurt and olives seemed foreign to the cashiers.
I'm not about to suggest that you lose your individuality or compromise your beliefs and values. Just make sure you're always aware of how your personal and professional expression either makes your work more or less difficult.