5 Years A Blogger

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On January 1st, 2012 I started my blogging journey.

Through the years, I’ve learned so much about writing, blogging, and my own womanhood. I want to thank all my supporters over the years, for without you all I’m not sure where I would be. This blog has gained me some valuable connections, timeless life lessons and ultimately proves itself as an outlet for me to grow, learn, inspire and save my own life over and over again.

Here are 5 things I learned over the years complete with some pretty cool photos shot by Kaleb Higginbotham or @lensconcepts on Instagram.

1) If you desire to start a blog, just do it.

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“Everything I do, I do it with a passion.” @lenconcepts

There are so many people I know that desire to start a blog, but get caught up in either the “right” time or having the “right” components that they think goes along with blogging, such as professional website, a nice logo, a target audience, etc. While those things are important, I believe that a person who desires to blog should focus on creating content first. The other stuff will come, but you want to have something to show people first.

2) It’s okay to start over & reinvent if you want to.

 

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“Expect nothing out of me except growth.”

Keep in mind that when I started blogging, I was 17 going on 18 years old a couple months later. My mindset then versus my mindset now has completely changed and that should be expected. Growth is inevitable. I went from calling myself Kween K, to Kween Kia, to now just Kia Smith Writes. I’ve changed sites that hosted my blog, changed my focus from being a hip-hop music blogger to simply wanting to write about whatever is on my heart.

My point is: You don’t have to be confined to anyone’s boxes, not even your own. If something about your brand is no longer working or making you happy, change it and be unapologetic about it. Burnout in blogging is REAL, and if this is something you want to do, make sure you are happy doing it.

3) Don’t compare yourself to other writers or bloggers.

 

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“No one is me, and that is my power.”

Look, there are some pretty amazing writers and bloggers out here who have thousands of followers out here, seem to be making lots of money and seem to be taking their brand to the next level.

Over the years, I had to learn that just because other writers and bloggers seem more successful doesn’t mean I lack as a writer or blogger. Comparison is truly the thief of joy, and I had no business comparing myself to other people when I wasn’t even aware of the work, time and effort that went into cultivating their brand. Just because it looked easy doesn’t mean that it is!

Moral of the story: The grass is only as green where you water it. The energy you invest in checking for other people and comparing yourself to them is the same energy that can be used to level yourself up. Focus on you, and your writing and blogging or whatever brand building you do will get better.

4) Consistency is key, but don’t force it.

 

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“Quality is better than quantity.”

Something I have struggled with over these last 5 years is being consistent in my blogging and writing. There have been times where I haven’t written anything for months out of time, either due to pure laziness or simply not being inspired.

However, I also learned the dangers of posting TOO much, just for the sake of posting.

The quality of your content will always matter more than how often you post in my opinion. A way I started combatting this was doing writing challenges or writing prompts and actually taking out the time to plan my posts. It helps with my organization and consistency, and I won’t have my readers asking where the hell I have been or if I even still blog lol.

Learn when to post and when to take a break as well.

5) You don’t know everything.

 

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“Do what you gotta do to manifest your dreams.”

 

There is always something to know and learn about your craft. Study it. Apply it. And with so many free resources out here, with some effort and practice, you’ll get better over time.

I came into the blog game believing that I knew everything and I wasn’t humble at all. When I realized that there was a lot I didn’t know, I began to feel inadequate but that wasn’t the case either.

Instead, I should’ve had my ass on Google and utilized my amazing mentors/people I admire and soaked up every bit of information I could find. But you live and you learn with your craft. You will make mistakes, but that’s how you learn.

Overall, these past 5 years have been nothing short of amazing. I can’t wait to see what I accomplish in the next 5 years+.

Thank you all for supporting me for so long and I pray that you all will continue to do so in the years to come ♥♥♥♥♥.

 

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“Stay focused on self & unimpressed by mediocrity.”

 

 

 

 

 

When The Dream Seems Unclear

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Maybe you decided in late December that 2017 would be the year that no matter what, you would manifest all your dreams.

So you did it. You took that leap of faith.

Maybe you quit school.

Maybe you moved to a new state that’s hours and hours away.

Maybe you graduated college not really knowing your next move but praying to God that it would all work out because you couldn’t spend another moment spending time being unsure of yourself.

Maybe you had your dreams all worked out, from plan A to Z, but somewhere in there, the dream got foggy.

You may be feeling stuck and the uncertainty is all too consistent and rightfully so, you are frustrated.

Before you drown yourself in a sea of anxiousness, stop yourself and breathe.

The thing about dreams is…. while its no doubt that they will get accomplished, the time period as well as the twists and turns that lead up to getting them accomplished is uncertain.

The uncertainty of it all is when life begins to feel uncomfortable.

If you are a control freak like me, then the thought of the unknown absolutely petrifies you. You may be used to always knowing what your next move is or you may constantly daydream about the ideal life you would like to live.

So what happens, when that dream gets deferred? What happens when your dream is put on pause; when plans don’t always fall through?

You gone give up?

NO.

You gone think of yourself as a failure?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.

So what do you do?

*shrugs shoulders*

Well… first of all, you have to get it out your head that life will always go according to plan.

That’s unrealistic.

Understand that life will have many twists and turns. I am a firm believer that struggle builds character and that if life was so easy, then we would never have anything to learn from, thus not gaining any type of wisdom.

Second of all, you’re not a failure if your dreams have to be put on pause.

Again, life will throw you curve balls but don’t think that you’re the biggest failure that ever lived because of it. Take that time on pause to figure out a different way you can attack and succeed at accomplishing your dreams. You will have to bend many, many times in life, the most important thing of all of this is to NEVER FOLD and allow your circumstances to defeat you.

Lastly, give yourself some credit and celebrate that you’ve even made it this far.

So what things may not be 100% in order, at least you took that first step! That’s more than a lot of other people can say. You have to get into the habit of affirming yourself! If you can’t do it for you, reach out to those closest to you who can uplift you when you’re feeling down. If that doesn’t work, visit this blog for some inspiration (#shamelessplug, lol)

The dream will seem unclear at times. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. When things seem cloudy it means that things will clear up for you soon. Stay focused and keep dreaming!

Love you all,

Kia ♥

Senior Year Affirmations 

Yesterday happened to be my last first day of school before I receive my bachelors degree. These past 5 years in college have truly been a journey but I can honestly say that I am blessed to be on it. College may not seem like much to most people but to me it is one of my greatest accomplishments in life. I was honestly supposed to drop out after I flunked my first semester all the way back in the fall of 2012, but God had other plans for my life. 

I pressed forward, not without mishaps of course but here I am… 5 months shy of crossing the finish line, or rather starting a new beginning. 

Lately I’ve been having conversations with people and the question that ALWAYS comes up is “What’s your plans after you graduate?”

*rolls eyes* Lemme be honest with y’all.. I actually hate that question. 

Cuz truthfully… I don’t know. I really don’t.

It’s hard for me to tell someone what I have planned for the next 5-6 months of my life when I don’t even know if I’ll be alive the next day. So whenever I get asked that question, it annoys me a little bit because sometimes I feel like people look at you crazy when you don’t have anything concrete planned. 

Instead, I would rather people ask me what would I like to do after I graduate, because I can talk all day about that. 

Currently I’m interested in jobs that have to do with youth development and I’m open to moving to anywhere that is Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and wherever God sees fit for me to go. I would like to write for a few publications professionally, I would like to travel and not only see the world but give back and help communities as well. 

I know many of my fellow seniors are stressed about the unknown, but for some reason I don’t feel that same sense of urgency like my peers do. 

Maybe it’s because it hasn’t sunk in that I have about 17 weeks until I graduate, or maybe it’s because I know that God is truly in control and that wherever I end up, I will be able to grow more, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem. 

To my fellow seniors, look y’all we got this. We have came this far, now is not the time to fall apart and panic about the unknown. Do what you have to do to get your life in order but don’t spread yourself too thin stressing over your next move. 

I was thinking about a few things & wanted to encourage you: 

Remember that it is okay not to have every detail of your life planned out. Like I said earlier, we are not even guaranteed to be alive the next day so how the hell can we predict what the next 5-6 months gone be like? 

Also. Don’t compare yourself to other people! You don’t know what trials and tribulations or sacrifices people go through to maintain what they have, the grass is always greener where YOU water it, so focus on YOU. Just because this fellow senior may have a high GPA, hella internships, their grad school completely paid for and a nice job lined up after graduation doesn’t mean that you are lacking in any way. It’s ok to look to others for motivation here and there, but don’t use someone else’s success to tear yourself down. 🙄

Lastly, enjoy the present much more. Yes you should definitely care about your future, but sometimes (most of the time) plans change. It’s our last year of college before we gotta be boring ass adults, so enjoy it! Travel. Party like you’re an underclassman again. Enjoy ya friends. Reflect on how far you’ve come & remain open to how far you will go. 

P.S. Don’t rush your graduation trying to make other people happy! It’s not a matter of WHEN you graduate, the most important part is just that you DO. If you feel unprepared NOW, why do you think rushing your graduation will prepare you any better? Take your time, college still gone be here. 

I love you all and remember seniors we got this! 

XoXo

– Kia 

I Choose To Be Powerful

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I’ve been through some things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I no longer want to be a victim of my experiences.

Say that out loud to yourself:

“I no longer want to be a victim of my experiences.”

Sometimes you have to randomly talk out loud to yourself about all that you’ve been through. It’s a strange exercise to some, but to me its quite liberating and allows you to sort through whatever is going on inside your head.

Ever since I wrote my post How Do I Get My Magic Back?  So many have reached out to me and commended me for telling a bit of my story, but also mentioned how they could never be so brave because they are ashamed of what has happened to them.

I am grateful to be a vessel for many, but I also want those same people to know that you don’t have to live in shame.

To be powerful is a choice you make each day, over and over again.

For me, choosing to be powerful came about in a few different ways.

#1) I acknowledge what I went through. 

Key word being went, which means I already overcame it. Which means I will likely NEVER got through it again.

#2) I move forward. 

Yes, I’ve been through some terrible things. But I don’t have to stay in that space. I don’t have to dwell on it. I will simply acknowledge my feelings about it, validate them and move forward.

#3) I choose to let my experiences empower me.

I know that I am a complex young woman but you know what? I wouldn’t wanna be anybody else except me. I got one hell of a story to tell. I have no reason to be ashamed of who I am, and neither do you. Of course, you don’t have to be like me and tell some of your business in a blog post, but you do owe it to yourself to do the work and overcome that shame and fear.

It is what it is.

You are who you are.

You were wonderfully created with unique life experiences for a reason.

Choose power.

Choose you.

 

Love,

Kia

The Treasures of 2016


I’ll be the first to say that 2016 was completely trash. From mental health battles, death of loved ones, poor academic performance and a host of other issues, I am glad to see this emotionally taxing year go! 

However, I gotta admit: 2016 was not actually all that bad.  It was a year like any other year, full of highs and full of lows. If I didn’t do anything else this year, I grew a hell of a lot, stepped out my comfort zone, and persevered through some really tough times. 

Because I was so focused on the negativity, all this year I never really took out the time to fully celebrate myself so I decided to write about 16 of my personal treasures of 2016. 

16. My relationship with God grew. (Note that I said relationship.) 

I started of this year on shaky faith and started seeking spiritual counseling with one of my favorite pastors. In our sessions, I learned the importance of building and maintaining a relationship with God that goes beyond the walls of a church. To be honest, Jesus is my home boy and while I am FAR from your next evangelist or prophet, I am just grateful to have something to believe in when the lights get dim. 

15. My writing was recognized and celebrated! 

So, I didn’t write that much this year, but when I DID write, the responses I got from it was mind boggling. My 3 favorite things I wrote this year was the #WriteYourselfALoveLetterChallenge, my For Colored Girls post, and my most recent post, How Do I Get My Magic Back? did really well with my readers and felt good to write. My favorite accomplishment with my writing would have to be when a friend of mine texted me 1 day this semester and asked if she could use my For Colored Girls post as a topic of discussion her natural hair group she was the President of AND I was invited to be a guest facilator! 

14. I celebrated my friends

This was a MAJOR year of wins for many of my close friends and I was mostly front and center for it ALL! From graduating from college with bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D’s, to crossing Black Greek Letter Organizations and many other personal accomplishments, I feel blessed to witness my friends conquer this year! 

13. New friends, Genuine connections

Although I have my original crew of friends, I’ve never been one to stick to just one friend group and I’m glad. The length of time you have known someone means nothing when the friendships and connections are organic and pure. I’m so glad that I had an opportunity to connect with a loyal few and I can’t wait to see where our friendship takes us into the New Year. 

12. MUSIC

If 2016 was good for nothing else, it was one hell of a year for great music! My favorites include LEMONADE, A Seat At The Table, Anti, H.E.R., Rae Sremmurd, Future, Childish Gambino and soooo much more. The music of 2016 was unapologetic AF, and I couldn’t be more proud of various artists going hella hard! 

11. I attended my first NABJ Conference 

I wrote about that experience both here and here but words honestly can’t explain how empowering that conference really was! If you are thinking about doing anything media related and especially if you black, PLEASE GET INVOLVED with your local NABJ Chapter! 

10. I had an EPIC 22nd Birthday 

Originally planning to be in Miami alone for my 22nd birthday, two of my best girlfriends surprised me on my birthday!!! I literally cried because I was so happy and if I could I would relive that moment, that entire trip over and over again. 

9. I got to travel! 

In addition to Miami, I also had some quick getaways to St. Louis, Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee. Though it didn’t seem like a big deal then, I now realize that those small trips were just as special and beneficial as any big one. 

8. I Gave Back As Much as I Could

Whether it was community clean ups, participating in an AIDS Walk or feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving, I did my part as much as I could this year to provide as much service as I could. 

7. I won some scholarships! 

I had plenty of financial burdens at the beginning of this semester, but thanks to my lovely Black Alumni Group and Nubian Connection group of my school, I was able to get my bursar bill to zero and my graduation dreams closer and closer! 

6. I had the opportunity to write for other publications! 

Major shout out to What’s The Word Tv, I love them so much and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to create content for their site! You can check out everything I’ve written for them here. Another major shout out I would like to give is to Simone, creator of Ugly Red Sweater and someone I truly admire. She let me post my For Colored Girls post on her site which you can read here.

Those two sites are ones I would definitely like to continue doing work with in 2017 and beyond so stay tuned! 

5. I Got Awards For Simply Being Me! 



I downplay myself a lot (bad habit but I’m breaking it) but apparently I’m really impactful on my campus! In March the ladies of the Zeta Chi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc surprised me with their Woman of Courage award at their Women’s Empowerment Dinner. And in October, the Mu Delta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc awarded me with the Most Scholarly Student trophy at their Soul 4 U Awards banquet. Also unexpected, but extremely flattering nonetheless. Shout out to all my friends in both organizations for shining a light on me and my accomplishments even when things are too dark for me to see it myself. 

4. I learned the importance of protecting my energy

Everybody doesn’t deserve access to you.

Everybody can’t come with you. 

Bad energy wit literally drain you to the point you feel dead inside. Always trust your gut instinct, it never fails you. Having a positive mindset may not change the outcome of something, but it will change the response you have to it. Protect your energy always and don’t be afraid to purge if necessary. 

3. I learned to set affirmations and intentions each month! 

When I noticed that months were becoming too sucky too often, I knew I needed to get my mind right, I just didn’t know HOW. Browsing around on Twitter one day I finally got my answer, and read up on affirmations and intentions. Things only have power if you speak them into existence and work for them. For the last few months at the stroke of midnight on the 1st I carefully write down all that I’m letting go of from the previous month and all that I am looking forward to for the new month. It’s a great exercise and a great way to stay focused & positive.

2. I started doing the work to make myself feel better.

I knew I had some issues that I no longer wanted to keep bottled up inside. So I started seeking professional counseling. I discovered that self care and self love is MORE than taking a personal day or buying yourself something nice when you feel down, it’s also about doing the dirty work too. It’s tough. It’s hard. And counseling is not the only key either. It takes WORK, but I’m proud of myself for taking the initiative and that’s definitely something that I will continue in 2017 and beyond. 

1. *drumroll please* I rediscovered my passion and purpose in life.

If I don’t do anything else with my life, let me just write! All year I was searching for different ways to feel complete, to hope and fulfill my dreams again. I thought I lost my spark, I thought I lost my magic. 

The truth is, everything I was searching has already been inside of me all along! I just had to tap into it, manifest it and stay consistent. This is the mindset I’m going into 2017 with. I may not know which path I’ll take to accomplish all that I want to do in my life, but I do have vision. 

I can’t really tell you how 2017 is going to be, BUT I’m determined to do all I can to make it great. 

In conclusion: 

I actually have to thank you 2016. I made plenty of mistakes this year but everything I learned this year is priceless! I felt like I was in the darkness for a while but that time was really just propelling me towards the light! 


Celebrate yourself!  What were some of your treasures of this year? 

How Do I Get My Magic Back?

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I’ve been molested and raped 3 times in my life.

Once at the tender age of 10.

Again at 14.

And again at age 19, on my birthday to be exact.

I will spare you all the details, because recalling your body getting violated over and over again is no fun time, and nothing I desire to put myself through again. In between all of that, I’ve been mentally and emotionally abused, emotionally tormented and in and out of toxic relationships. I’ve felt inadequate, unworthy and incapable of being loved for a long time. I deal with anxiety. I deal with depression. I’ve been suicidal. And in the back of my mind, I’ve always wondered…..

“How do I get my magic back?”

My spark.

My spunk.

The things that make me, me.

And if you know me, you may say I’ve never lost it. You may see me always smiling, laughing, and enjoying life as best as I can… and for the most part, that’s true. I am a generally positive person. But on the flip side, I am pessimistic, self-loathing and just downright unhappy. At times I think my optimistic side is a facade I put on for others, while my pessimistic side is the true me…

But then again, that could just be my pessimism talking.

I’m often in a space where I don’t know who I am anymore and literally can’t handle the things that I go through on a day-to-day basis, so I isolate myself. I let myself fall deep into the darkness. Barely eating, not sleeping, not seeing my friends for weeks. I shut down, neglect my important tasks, then send myself into a frenzy when I realize that my shit is not together.

Lol, it’s sick.

Aside from what I mentioned at the beginning of this post, other things have contributed to me feeling like I lost my magic, this year in particular. 2016 was a mess! With a pending graduation coming up, I am now faced with the pressure of figuring out what the hell do I want to do with my life in order to pay these student loans off once, as well as staying true to my passions, manifesting them and staying consistent with them. I have problems with consistency: when things get too tough, I tend to run from them instead of facing my issues head on. The crazy thing about it, I didn’t ALWAYS  use to be like this. So again I ask myself:

“How do I get my magic back?”

I can tell you all the things I tried…

I tried to drink it away. Smoke some weed here and there. Sex it away. Bought a bunch a shit I didn’t even need. Went to counseling once a week and I even tried to go all the way to Cape Town, South Africa thinking that if I was in a new place, I could level up mentally and boom! All my trauma and issues would miraculously disappear and I would enter 2017 as the most woke, at peace ass bih you could imagine. But if its one thing I learned… happiness and peace ain’t found at the bottom of a Crown Royal Apple bottle, not in the sheets with a nigga that don’t really care about me and definitely ain’t in a high ass credit card bill full of shit that I was only wearing like once or twice.

I honestly don’t have the answers on what I gotta do to get my magic back. The enjoyable part of self love and self care is often glorified throughout social media, but nobody really talks about the WORK, the painful WORK that goes into doing this shit.

Nobody really speaks on how sometimes it’s too hurtful to take care of yourself cuz that’s like peeling back layers and layers of scars, and everybody knows you ain’t supposed to pick scars if you want them to heal.

But at the same time… I want my magic back. I wanna level up. I wanna get to a space in my life where I understand that although I have endured some FUCKED UP and I mean FUCKED up shit, I still got a life to live, I am not tainted and I got one hell of a story to tell.

Honestly, I been holding back on this post for weeks cuz I’ve been too embarrassed to put my truth to paper. Scared about what people would think about me. Scared to acknowledge my pain and suffering. But I want my magic back, and while I am not tooting my own horn, writing is definitely something that makes me magical.

So while I don’t have the complete key to getting my magic back, I will say that I am trying…. In healthier ways of course. I’ve started writing and journaling again. I’ve surrounded myself with those who love and care about me. And I’m slowly but surely no longer repressing my emotions. I heard in church a while back that we don’t go through certain experiences in our lives for no reason. And while I am often wondering “WHY ME?”,  I know that my story can help someone else one day.

So, needless to say: I’ll get my magic back… and you will too, and so are you, and you and YOU… and once we all get our magic back, we will be forces to be reckoned with.

Thanks for reading beloveds. I pray that this post helps in a way ♥

Kia, You Going To South Africa?

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In short, the answer is yes!

So about a month ago I ran across this organization called Meet and Teach created by a PhD student named Evan Brown on my Facebook. Evan is extremely talented in a bunch of different areas and his non profit that he created has been getting great recognition for the work he did in South Africa earlier in the year.

After praying about it and talking to Evan myself, I knew I had to apply though I had talked myself out of it plenty of times. (Go away, self doubt.) But one thing about me, when I truly want to do something, I will put my heart and soul into it to make sure it happens.

So why am I going?

Evan partly inspired me to join his organization, simply because I think it’s amazing to see people who look like me travel abroad and help those around them.

Growing up, I’m not what you would consider rich but I was always taught to help those with whenever I could. I’ve watched my entire family help people of our community in any way possible, whether they need a place to stay or if they needed a meal because they had no food. I truly live by the motto that life is about reciprocity and lifting others as you climb.

As you all may or may not be aware, I do study both journalism and Africana studies. In a gist, I love words, I love all things Black culture and I love story telling. In order to know who you are as a person, you have to know where you’ve come from in order to know where you’re going. I want to tell the stories of the people in Cape Town and tell them some of my own as well.

I’m HUGE on mentoring and although I’m going to South Africa to mentor and teach, I feel like I’m the one who’s going to come back learning something.

So, how am I funding this trip?

Well… that’s where you all come in at. I’ve been raising money via Gofundme and I’ve been doing other fundraising like selling chips and candy and chicken plates to my campus. However, if you would like to donate or simply share my campaign, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/kia-goes-to-south-africa

Visit http://www.meetandteach.org for more info on them as well.

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Thank you so much everyone. Lets pray that I get to South Africa!

Power Up Your Position: Major Keys From The #NABJRegionIIChi Conference

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The greatest investment is always the one you make in yourself.

In my most recent post, I talked about my experience at my first NABJ Conference that I attended in Chicago and I’m back again with some major keys that I picked up. Enjoy!

On Money Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make in the Gig Economy

“You have to crawl before you walk.” – Micah Materre

Moderator: Micah Materre, WGN-TV Chicago

Panelists: Khoa X. Ho, Vice President of Investor Services of Ariel Investments and Darryl Newell, Vice President of Seaway Bank

So as we know, the world of journalism/writing/media is based on gig after gig. You have to hustle. You will switch jobs often unless you’re lucky enough to find stability. Regardless, you want to be as financially literate as you can. The panelists discussed everything from paying off student loans to investing in stocks. They said a journalist needs 3 things to survive in the gig economy, such as

A) Time on your side (start budgeting and saving early)

B) You need to be disciplined when it comes to spending.

C) You cannot succumb to momentary greed.

As far as debt, both panelists suggested tackling debt with the highest interest rate first. They also suggested getting a credit card that has the lowest interest rate as possible, as well as making at least two payments a month on your credit card bill to reduce your principle. If you are looking to build credit, they suggested on starting out with a secure credit card.

Other tips included:

  • Don’t spend more than 15% of your gross income (money after taxes are taken out) on consumer debt (loans, credit card debt, etc.)
  • No more than 28% of your gross income should be spent on housing. Fellow attendees shared tips on saving on housing in different places including searching on Craigslist for apartments of rooms in a home that have utilities included.
  • You should have at least 6 to 9 months of an emergency saved up and don’t be afraid to save for retirement once you save up.
  • When it comes to stocks, you should only invest in what you know. Think of yourself as a business partner whatever company you invest in. And remember, when you are investing, the results will not be fast.

On the Student and Early Career Journalist Forum

Moderator:

Tonya Francisco, Anchor/Reporter WGN-TV

Panelists:

Audrina Bigos, Reporter from CBS 2

George Lara, Director of Internships and Mentorships at Chicago Public Media

Leah Hope, Reporter from ABC7

Darleen Glanton, Columnist from the Chicago Tribune

This panel was all about ways to build a solid career in the ever-changing journalism world of journalism and some really great advice was given. Since (most)  internships are now legally mandated by federal law to be paid, that means they are even more scarce. Below are some tips on how to get your name out there.

“Start out small and gradually work your way up.” – Darleen Glanton

“Pitch. Pitch. PITCH. That’s how you get better.” – George Lara

“In this business, you are NOT a single entity, so stay connected.” – Tonya Francisco

Audrina Bigos, the youngest on the panel talked a little bit about ageism.

“Even though I am the youngest, I bring something to the table. So don’t be discouraged by your age, because experience outweighs that,” she said.

We also discussed the work that goes into getting a great story. Darleen Glanton said that “You have to be able to talk to people and try to grab the essence of who they are. Be apart of that community and dig.”

“Think about what is the best medium for this story.” – George Lara

“Remember that every story has a different pace and different emotion.” – Audrina Bigos

“Create stories within your lives, your families, your communities. Start small and develop your voice.” – Leah Hope.

One of the attendees in the room asked a question about journalists pursuing graduate school after receiving their bachelors. Here’s what our panelists had to say.

“Grad school is an option if you missed your opportunity in undergrad, such as internships.” – Tonya Francisco *personal opinion*

“More than a degree, they want to see your experience.” – Leah Hope

“A lot of times, its fear that makes people go to grad school. If you’re driven by fear, turn that fear into action.” – Audrina Bigos.

 On New Jobs In The Digital Age and What You Need to Get Them

Moderator: Art Norman, from NBC 5

Natasha Alford, Deputy Editor of TheGrio.com

Kathy Chaneym Managing Editor-Print of EBONY Magazine

Felecia Henderson, Assistant Managing Editor of the Detroit News

Arionne Nettles Digital Managing Editor of the Chicago Defender

*Special guest: Dr. Renee Ferguson

This panel was full of Black Girl Magic and by far my favorite. You can watch the Facebook Live recording I did of it by clicking this link here.

Some major keys:

“Learn how to do everything, and learn the business side of the business.” – Kathy Chaney

“Understand all platforms. Be comfortable in WordPress and other content managing systems.” – Arionne Nettles

“Success has many different paths, it does not look the same for every person.” – Dr. Renee Ferguson

I’m so grateful to have been able to attend this conference. There is nothing more inspiring than being in the same room as those who started exactly where I am as a student of the craft and to see them excel and progress in their own ways. ♥

Were you at the #NABJRegionIIChi Conference? 

What did you learn while there? 

Who did you connect with?

Make sure you either answer in the comments or tweet me your feedback @KiaSmithWrites

My First NABJ Conference

 

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Because nothing is better than your first time.

 

I had wrestled with the idea of going to this conference for weeks, ever since I saw some Facebook friends attend another one in D.C. earlier this summer that left me feeling jealous because not only do I love D.C., but the people they were meeting and assumed connections they were making made feel as if I was missing out on something important, my purpose. 

My relationship with journalism was indeed a difficult one. I have always struggled about whether or not it was something I truly wanted to pursue. And if so, what type of journalist did I want to be? I never felt like I fit in with what I call “traditional” journalism (the people you see on the news) and after a bad experience with my school’s newspaper a couple years ago, I knew news writing was something I had no desire to do either. 

Creative by nature, I’ve always enjoyed writing stories about anything that crossed my mind and the older I got, I became interested in blogging about topics that interest me. If you truly know Kia, whether it is in real life or based off of an online relationship then you know I’m opinionated and passionate about well….everything. 

Upon entering college, my relationship with NABJ has not been as consistent as it should’ve been. I haven’t been an active member in almost 2 years due to other obligations and other leadership involvement on my campus but with my fifth year of college rolling around, I decided I wanted to become a due paying member again. 

For those that are not aware, NABJ stands for National Association of Black Journalists and was founded December 12, 1975 by 44 men and women in Washington D.C. It is the largest organization of journalists of color in the world. For more information, visit nabj.org

When the current NABJ of my school’s chapter told us about the upcoming Region 2 conference on finance in Chicago, I knew I had to go. 

Luckily, this conference was only a 5 hour drive from my school and with me actually being from Chicago, I didn’t have to deal with outlandish hotel fees like many of my counterparts. The next two weeks leading up to the conference were dedicated to figuring out what I was wearing, updating my resume and putting in an order for business cards. 

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I boarded the red line to an unfamiliar part of downtown Chicago. It was raining this day, and I was honestly in a terrible mood but I pressed forward knowing that I was meant to be here.

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Official like a whistle.

Walking into the Medill School of Journalism, I immediately felt a sense of being home. So many bright and beautiful black and brown faces both young and old greeted me warmly and made sure I knew where to go.
The first session was called Money Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make In The Gig Economy. It was facilitated  by Micah Materre who is a WGN Anchor in Chicago featuring panelists Khoa X. Ho, Vice President of Investor Services at Ariel Investments and Darryl Newell who is the Vice President of Seaway Bank.
Since this panel was all about money management for journalists, we learned plenty of information regarding savings, credit cards, and stocks and bonds. So much priceless information was given in this session and I even got a photo with Micah Materre!
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She was so nice and personable!
The next panel, entitled Student and Early Career Journalist Forum was moderated by Tonya Francisco, who is a anchor and reporter on WGN-TV. This panel featured Audrina Bigos a reporter from CBS 2, George Lara who is the Director of Internships and Mentorships for Chicago Public Media, Leah Hope a reporter from ABC7 and last but not least Darleen Glanton, a columnist from the Chicago Tribune. In another post, I will go more in depth about what I learned in each session, because the jewels dropped in this session were too precious NOT to share!
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The SIUC Chapter of NABJ
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Art Norman and I, a legendary news reporter (with an AMAZING voice LOL) from NBC 5
 My most FAVORITE part of the whole conference was the panel entitled New Jobs in the Digital Age and What You Need to Get Them. It was moderated by Art Norman and was FULL of amazing and accomplished black WOMEN.♥♥♥
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So much Black Girl Magic: Dr. Renee Ferguson, Natasha Alford, Kathy Chaney, Felecia Henderson, and Arionne Nettles. 
I heard these women speak and I knew that was table I wanted to have a seat at one day.
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Much love to Kathy Chaney 

What truly warmed my heart was being in a room full of educated and passionate journalists of color, who were either just starting out in the business or veterans in this business.The advice that was given, the knowledge that was dropped! I can’t wait to share with you all about that but in the mean time… let me just revel in my moment.

This conference helped me figure out that my voice does indeed matter and that there is a place for me in the world of journalism and there are professional people in this world who know exactly how I feel and want to see me make it.

Moral of the story: The best investment you’ll ever make in life is always the investment you’ll make in yourself.

We Are Not OK

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I am so tired of us getting murdered.. 

So on my way to work this morning, I tweeted this:

It is literally exhausting being Black at a PWI right now. To navigate these classrooms day by day surrounded by those who just don’t understand why we are upset, angry and feeling hopeless.. to have to comfort fellow classmates, colleagues and friends from having mental breakdowns cuz they are just so tired of the bs. 

It’s so easy for other folks to tell us to oh turn off the tv, get off social media, choose not to see color, etc.

But we can’t ignore it.

How can we ignore constant images and videos of our people getting senselessly murdered for simply existing?  How are we supposed to sleep peacefully at nigh knowing that at ANY given moment one of us or one of our friends/fam could be next?

We don’t HAVE the PRIVILEGE of ignoring this shit. So fuck you if you don’t get it.

Ya’ll tell us all lives matter but what the hell are you doing on behalf of everybody else?

And then to navigate this campus and these work spaces and having to hear people try to justify these murders…

That’s the sickest part.

And then ya’ll wanna bring it up in casual conversation, asking me what I think. Watching me to see if Imma explode. But of course I have to hold my composure cuz I’m either at work or in class and I can’t break down or be angry in public.

But they just go back to smiling and laughing and ignoring stuff. I guess that’s how it is when you know your life matters.” @KiaSmithWrites

I’m not gone lie to ya’ll. I am all out of answers. In some instances, I feel completely hopeless. To see people who look like me death’s constantly get regurgitated on my timelines is enough to make me go insane. It’s like no matter what we do or say, if a cop wants to kill us, he or she will and to make matters WORSE, absolutely NOTHING will happen to them… Except paid leave. Protection from society. And the best lawyers that money can buy to get them off error free.

Meanwhile, the rest of us black folks are just in SHAMBLES, trying to keep our composure around people who don’t even get it. And its not that we are seeking sympathy but I just wish people would stop telling us that we are making a big deal out of nothing and then give us reasons why all these men, women and children basically deserved to die.

That’s insulting!

It’s infuriating!

And quite frankly,

It’s bullshit.

I’m not sure why the world hates us. I’m not sure what type of sick ass satisfaction the world gets from killing us. We done marched, fought back, protested and did everything in the book to try and stop this and its like nothing is working.

We can’t say that the system is broken, its actually working exactly like it was intended to.

I’m not okay ya’ll. We aren’t okay. I commend us for trying to be strong and resilient like we’ve always been, but something truly has to give.

May you all practice self care and unplug if necessary,

I’m out.