7 Weeks Later

I’ve been thinking about how I’m different now than I was seven weeks ago.

This is in part because I value self-reflection, but mostly because my mom wants to know: was the program in Portland worth it? Was it worth the money, worth being away from my family the summer before I go abroad, worth the stressful deadline days?

To respond to these valid concerns (and to appease North, who looooves listicles so much), I’ve compiled a collection of 7 Things I’ve learned in 7 Weeks.

1. Portland really is very, very kooky.

I did not think that the show Portlandia was funny before this summer. Now, I find its hilarity is that Carrie and Fred do not exaggerate; people are straight up weird here. But I think that also makes the city feel more vibrant. Because people embrace the weird, things like Kung Fu Theater and Clowns Without Borders can actually be successful in Portland.

2. The media industry isn’t as impenetrable as it seems.

Over the summer we’ve met dozens of talented media-makers—the type of people who make it easy to get starstruck. I (unfairly) expected them to be jaded about the idea of twelve more millennials entering an already competitive field. But, rather than guarding their secrets of success, they freely shared their hard-earned wisdom and past mistakes with all of us,  answering question after question. And they made me feel like the challenges of getting into the industry are not insurmountable.

3. Just ask!

This self-directed advice is threefold: ask people for interviews even if they tell you no or tell you off, ask people you respect your dumb questions because everyone was a beginner once, and ask others for help when you need it.

4. The best grilled cheese sandwich is the Sour Apple at the Grilled Cheese Grill.

And I’m not being paid to say this, I’m just a fan.

5. Making mistakes is your friend.

Even with all of the classes at Portland Community Media and the homeroom jam-sessions, I have learned more from the mistakes I’ve made this summer than anything else. For example, when recording for my audio documentary about the Community Cycling Center’s Bike Camp, I decided not to use a sock to cover my recorder for fear of looking unprofessional. I thought that I could “just fix it up” in post-production. What followed was a giant headache of trying to piecemeal solutions to make my audio sound passable. Now I know: I would much, much rather look like a bumbling college kid with a sock for a hand than have to deal with wind correction again.

6. Bike exploration rocks.

Pretty self-explanatory, but traveling by bike has been a highlight of my summer. Yes, it’s so easy to do in Portland, great exercise and good for the environment, but it also makes me feel free (additionally: sweaty) and more likely to explore new places in the city.

7. The Summer Documentary Program was 100% worth the time, money, and stressful deadline days.

I feel 100 times more equipped to be a media professional than I did 7 weeks ago, in large part because of the people I’ve met (my peers included) and the mistakes I’ve been able to make.

And I’m not being paid to say this, I’m just a fan.


So in a final sign-off from your media-making pal: