Tag Archives: persistence

The difference a year makes


What a year in weeklies  looks like.

What a year in weeklies looks like.

On August 5th, 2014 a young Midwesterner came to the southern Appalachian Mountains fresh out of college to start off what he hoped to be a successful writing career.

The first couple of months were a blur of course. After spending the last 23 years of his sheltered life under his parents roof, he was now juggling how to write articles and take photos on top of learning about the downside of student loans, how to balance a budget, how to “cook” and …

I could spend this time telling you the entire story but I think that would be rather boring. After all what I did was nothing special, but I’m still proud of the fact I made it a whole year on my own considering where I started.

The truth is I wish my past year was the fairy tale story about the rookie reporter who came to town and unearthed some deep seated corruption, but it was nothing of the sort. In fact, it was probably the exact opposite. Needless to say I got a serious wake up call from many departments of realty.

Obviously in the past year I’ve learned a lot about being a reporter: learning how to write, taking printable photos, finding out what’s newsworthy, developing sources etc. I’m well aware it will take a long time before I am a master of my craft. More importantly, however, I’ve learned some more important lessons not just about work, but life in general.

Not the least of which is how to take a proper beating to your ego. Naively I entered the job thinking I would have some sort of small town celebrity status by being the reporter and a northerner. Hahaha, that didn’t exactly come to fruition the same way it did in my mind. I’ve never considered myself as a guy with a big ego but opening my writing up to the public firing squad for critique did sting a bit.

This past year I can say I’ve dealt with a lot of growing pains with very little, if any, signs of reward from it. I felt as if every time I did something good I got a kick to the crotch from something else that put me right back down. Every time I needed a moral victory I just couldn’t get it. It was incredibly frustrating to say the least.

The give up button was dangling right in front of my face. I missed my friends and family (still do) and my continued frustrations only added kindling. The feeling would come and go, each time stronger than the last. It would’ve been so easy to just throw in the towel.

But I didn’t give up. I somehow said no to the beast every time. Enduring the growing pains has only made me a better as a journalist and reporter. The only way to get better is through failure and by giving up on this job I would’ve gave up any hope of living a life not dictated by fear as so many people do.

Lately I’ve had to do something I’ve never really done in my life: believe in myself. I’ve had to believe I’m doing the right thing and that one day will be my day. As long as I’m putting in the work to better myself, no matter how smaller an improvement, the opinions of others don’t matter.

Looking back I can say I’m a better person than I was a year ago. I’m more humbled for sure but my willpower and confidence are better than ever before. In fact, confidence was a foreign concept to me before I took the step to leave everything I had ever known and loved to start a brand new life. Now I feel unbreakable. The worst is over and nothing is going to stop me.

It is my belief success is really just having a strong work ethic combined with the will not to give up. It just takes time.

Here’s to another year.

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Taking the Lumps


Once again I apologize for my lack of updates. Now that I’m interning at the Springfield News-Sun on top of working at my other job I really haven’t had a lot of free time. Also, I didn’t really have anything floating around in my head that I thought was worthy of a post, until now at least.

I’m entering week 6 of my 8 week internship. It’s been a great experience for me and definitely a wake up call. I thought after freelancing for a year at school I would be ready to take on the world.

I was wrong.

During the course of this internship I’ve felt strange like I was in a funk. A funk is a good way to describe it. I feel like I’m not progressing as fast as I’d like to. I’m having trouble building relationships with my co-workers due to my social skills. I feel like I haven’t been giving it my best but at the same time I feel like a haven’t gave it my worst. To sum it up I’ve felt average. For me this feeling is simply unacceptable. I would rather fail than just be average. At least with failure comes a learning experience. It is one thing to fail giving it your all but it is another thing to fail because you we’re to scared to call that extra source out of some irrational social fear. Just like seeing my goals become reality is the greatest feeling for me, seeing me not live up to them feels equally as bad.

I’m trying to pinpoint what my problem is. Could it be that I’m simply burning out after from 70 hour work weeks and not having a legitimate period of rest since spring break? Could it be because it’s only an internship and not a real job?

Maybe it’s a combination of the two. Maybe it’s something else.

I do not want to beat myself up too much considering the fact that a year ago I had never written an article besides in my high school paper. I have learned so much in just a year about the field of journalism. I’m comparing myself with my co-workers who have years of experience in the field. I’m also comparing myself with my fellow intern, who has had much more college experience than I have had so far.

In fact, I think the real problem is that I’m putting too much pressure on myself. I feel like I have such a limited time to….perfect my skills. I’ve said time and time again that I don’t want to be a perfectionist but I think with all the success I’ve had in the past year it got to my head. I started expecting instant success if I show up and put in some effort. Now I’m working with professionals, not students. I’ve only leveled up. I’m not a level 70 wizard yet. I need to realize that I’m just a beginner and it will be a long time before I’m a great journalist. It’s only an internship. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain from it. I consider myself lucky to have gotten such a competitive internship especially considering I turned in the application hours before the deadline.

Hours before the deadline. Such a life of a reporter.

Now I have yet another deadline. I have three weeks before this internship is over. I’m tired and burnt out but I intend to switch on the afterburners and give it my all. I don’t want to be regarded as the average intern. I want see a marked improvement in my skills no matter how small they are.

During my orientation one of the directors said something profound to the 10 or so interns in the room. He said we were all selected because we had talent. He also said that if we walk into this internship as if we know everything already we will fail. He said to gather to full experience of this internship you must act as if you know nothing.

I haven’t forgotten that advice and I never will. I know that I must take my lumps. It’s been hard. It will continue to be hard but eventually one day things will start clicking. The point I’m trying to make is sometimes you just have to just admit as beginner you suck and it might be a long time before you get better. The tricky part is to not get discouraged and maintain that belief through the rough times.


Never Give Up


Once again I apologize for not updating my blog as frequently as I would like to. It really has been a crazy quarter for me so far. I have had a lot of things happen to me, some terrific…and some not so terrific. I wanted to sum up the past month of events and cover a very important topic: no matter the obstacle, no matter how impossible something looks, never give up.

Towards the end of March I received an e-mail from my school. It was a department-wide e-mail about a scholarship. It was called the Greenwood Integrity Scholarship. It is a scholarship, created by a local couple, given out to juniors in the department that would pay for their whole senior year. The winner didn’t need a 4.0 GPA,  have to be a certain race, or be left-handed to win it. All you had to do was write a five-page paper that answers the question: What makes you qualified for the 2012 Greenwood Integrity Scholarship?

            This scholarship had my name all over it. After the events of the past year this scholarship was perfect for me. The problem: the deadline was in a couple of days. Being a college student, writing a five-page paper on limited time isn’t a problem but it happened to be final exam week and spring break just was around the corner. Adding to the difficulty, I had to get three of my instructors to evaluate me. Initially, I thought about forgetting about it and just moving on with my life.

            Then something came over me. I have missed out on so many opportunities in my life simply because I was too scared to try. In the past year I actually took risks and they paid off. I left my dead-end job for a temporary position. Now I’m hired on permanently, making way more money than I was, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. In the winter, I applied for a highly competitive summer internship despite barely making the deadline. I had to go there and hand off my application personally and in time I ended up getting the internship. After those two decisions that I made that completely changed my life for the better I’m about to take the lazy route now? This was simply something that I had to do. For myself.

            So I wrote the essay. It was like writing this blog. I told them all about the past year. How I am a completely changed man as a result of my experiences. In fact, I think if it wasn’t for the blog I couldn’t have written the easy. I wrote like I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, because really I did. The paper was the easy part. The hard part was running around the school getting evaluations from my professors and, more importantly, making sure they were sent in before the deadline. To make matters worse, one of my professors just got a job in Florida so he had to fax in my evaluation. I wasn’t sure if it was all going to work out. There were definitely times where I wanted to give up but I kept on going. Finally I got it done and turned it in hours before the deadline. I mean it when I say that I didn’t really care if I won the money or not. I was just happy that I made the extra effort despite the fact that it was final exam week and I wanted nothing more than to just kick back and get a head start to my spring break.

            A couple of weeks passed and then one day I received another e-mail. It was from the head of the department inviting me to the department awards ceremony. I was shocked. Could it be? Did I actually win it? I wasn’t sure. The winner was to be announced at the ceremony. Needless to say, it consumed my mind for the next couple of weeks.

            Finally the day had come. The awards ceremony was impressive. There had to be around 100 people in attendance. They announced all of the various award winners. They would come up receive their awards and sit back down. The ceremony lasted about two hours. The final event on the program was the announcement of the Greenwood Integrity Scholarship. By then I was incredibly nervous. The Greenwoods walked on stage. They were a wonderful couple. They explained the details of the scholarship and why they choose who they did. At last, the moment of truth had come and with the words “Andrew Mundhenk” my life changed forever. For the first time in my life, I had won an award. My senior year was paid for! I couldn’t believe it! They quoted highlights of my paper to the audience and I even received a standing ovation from the crowd. I was speechless. I didn’t know how to react. I just stood there. Nothing like this had ever happen to me. Even to this day I can’t get over it. To think that I was seconds away to placing that e-mail in the trash.

            This experience forever solidified my belief in being persistent and never giving up.  Don’t let anything or anyone get the way of bettering yourself, especially your own self. It’s easy to say, “There’s no chance I’ll win” or, “Write a five-page paper and get three professors to evaluate me? During the last week of school? That’s way too much work.” It’s easy to settle for instant gratification instead of putting in the extra effort. However it will be a lot easier to look back five years from now and know that I gave it my all rather than living with regret.

            Winning a scholarship with integrity in the name does not mean that I am a perfect person. I still have a long way to go and obviously I will never be perfect. I’m not trying to be. I’m not trying to boast my achievements on here. I wouldn’t have won it without the trails that I’ve been through in the past year and the support of my friends and family, especially the latter. I just hope that I can be an example of someone who takes up a challenge that may or may not pay off and put 100% effort into it. I have failed many times before. I’ve had numerous job and scholarship applications get shot down. I’m more than sure that I will have plenty more in the future. The important thing is that you remain persistent and never give up. Laziness has run amok in this culture and it’s easy to succumb to it. Just remember this: you only have one life. Do you want to spend your time living it or watching it?