UC undergrad finds community, discovers his career path

Multiple internships give A&S student real-world experience in journalism

Fourth year journalism student Zach Jarrell began his college career at the University of Cincinnati as a statistics major. Despite having an interest in studying journalism, Jarrell had his doubts. He was unsure about the practicality of that degree, and his ability to pay off his future student loans through it.

Following his passion, Jarrell switched his major to journalism in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, and has never looked back..

UC journalism major Zach Jarrell

UC journalism major Zach Jarrell

“The journalism department at UC is small but with the professors behind it, there’s really just like this energy they all have, and this love and this passion. You have to love what you do, and I could really see that in each and every professor that I had.”

After taking his first journalism class taught by Jeffrey Blevins, professor of journalism, Jarrell knew he had made the right decision.

“He really made me fall in love with the art of journalism, what it takes to put into a story and how important the job of a journalist is, especially in today’s climate,” said Jarrell.

With early academic successes under his belt, Jarrell found opportunities to get real-world experience — and build his resume — before he graduated. Jarrell’s story is one of many UC students who have found professional opportunities before earning their degrees as part of the university’s Bearcat Promise, which strives to make sure each student graduates with a diploma in one hand and a career path in the other.

Through this program, I found my people, I found my community, I found my calling.

Zach Jarrell UC College of Arts & Sciences journalism major

Jarrell landed internship opportunities with multiple media outlets, including the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Los Angeles Blade and Gateway Journalism Review. While one journalism internship is required upon graduation for journalism majors at UC, Jarrell says he is thankful he pursued and landed multiple opportunities in his college career.

“My first experience was with Gateway Journalism Review. I got some feature writing experience, and interviewing, and kept on steadily building skills,” said Jarell. “At my internship with the Los Angeles Blade, I did a lot of breaking, hard-news stuff. I really feel like I made that final stride at the Business Courier. They really taught me what it’s like to be a local reporter in a city, really going out and making connections with your sources.”

Jarrell credits support from his professors and the journalism department for helping set him up for success, through support and references.

“I wouldn’t have gotten my first internship if it wasn’t for Jeff Blevins,” said Jarrell. “He got me that internship before I’d even taken News Writing and Reporting. He saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself, and he really believed in me, and he suggested me for this role, and I got it just basically because of this recommendation.”

For Jarrell, his professors have become more than teachers — they’ve become career mentors.  

“I am so grateful that I entered the journalism program here, from the people in it, to my peers and professors,” he says. “When I came to UC, I wasn’t confident in myself. Through journalism, through this program, I found my people, I found my community, I found my calling,” he says.

Jarrell believes that as an incoming student, it’s important to make yourself stand out and show that you are passionate and willing to learn, no matter what the major. 

“My advice for a first-year student would be just go up, speak to your professors the first day of class. If you go up and speak to your professor after class, and if you’re emailing your professor, your professor is going to see that you want to make a connection,” he says. “If you show interest, they want to help you.”

Featured image at top: AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Headshot of By Ryan Smith

By Ryan Smith

Student Journalist, A&S Department of Marketing and Communication


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