OPINION: What working 7 jobs at a single company can teach you before you graduate

Kyle Hampel, graduating senior in English, smiles for the camera knowing he won't have to go to any more classes for the rest of his life. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

After two full years, my time with the Collegian is coming to an end.

I’ve had a pretty good run, I think. Between dunking on white supremacists and professing my love for video games like a corporate stooge, I’ve absolutely loved putting myself out there in 1,000 words or less as an award-winning opinion columnist.

You probably recognize me from writing horoscopes every week, or maybe from writing those opinion columns that make your grandpa mad. I’ve done more than just throwing my opinions at the wall, though.

In my two years with the Collegian, I’ve had no less than seven distinct job titles. Being a human Swiss army knife has its perks, so here’s what I learned doing these seven jobs through the years.

1. News Editor

My first job with the Collegian was being the summer news editor — not because I deserved it, really, but because no one else wanted to do it and I was new. Obviously, this was not a recipe for success.

While I wouldn’t call myself a bad news editor, I was clearly inexperienced and unsure of myself, and it showed in my writing and the stories the Collegian covered. Still, mistakes make for great teachers, and I learned a very important lesson I carry with me today: always ask your superiors questions so you screw up as little as possible.

2. Page Designer

My other position during my first summer with the Collegian was a bit less rocky since I inexplicably spent three semesters as a graphic design major before switching to English — and boy, do those skills carry over.

It’s an often overlooked job, but someone has to place all the text and images on those pages you fine folks read with your morning coffee. I really enjoyed being a designer that summer, and my self esteem was helped by my supervisor telling me I was the fastest learner she’d ever worked with.

I won’t be a graphic designer after I graduate, obviously, but the skills I’ve honed can still take me to unexpected places. Laying out pages taught me another important lesson: if you’re good at something, find a way to use your skills (and maybe get paid for it, too).

3. Opinion Editor

This position is now known as the “community editor” to emphasize the voices of the people or something, but the fall 2017 semester was my first real chance to do what I love: endlessly complain and get paid for it.

Being the opinion editor was easily my favorite job at the Collegian, and it’s one I held for four semesters, including summer 2018. Helping other people polish their thoughts into a shiny column of text while learning to do the same for myself was pure bliss for someone as opinionated as me.

It’s not a job for everyone — seeing the merit in other points of view is something a lot of people struggle with. But being proud of my work and getting recognized with a national writing award taught me this: if you’re good at something, success and recognition will come as long as you don’t give up.

4. Copy Editor

Despite the name, copy editors don’t specialize in copying other people’s work. That’s plagiarism, and that’s illegal for companies like ours that can’t afford 200 lawyers. Rather, copy editors work to check the “copy,” or body paragraph text, for mistakes in spelling, grammar or style.

Have you ever noticed that our paper doesn’t use Oxford commas, or that we spell “adviser” with an “e” for some reason? Thank the copy editors for keeping that consistent.

As another behind-the-scenes position, being a copy editor can be a little thankless sometimes. No one ever appreciates your work until they catch a mistake that slipped by you.

Still, a lesson was learned: if the success and recognition you want hasn’t come yet, it’s still important to appreciate your own efforts and self-worth even if no one else will.

5. Design Chief

Now we’re in the big leagues! I was the design chief last summer, the biggest and baddest page designer of them all, but there was a catch: I was the only page designer last summer.

We tried to hire someone else, of course, but they didn’t show up for the first day of work and wouldn’t return our calls. So, I had to step up and assemble the entire paper by myself with no prior notice.

And then I did it again, and again, and again and so on through the summer. Lesson learned: if you’re good at your job, don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands for better results.

6. Deputy Multimedia Editor

That jumble of words means “I make graphics” in plain English. Still, it’s a job title that makes me sound fancy.

I spent my last semester working in support roles rather than being the opinion editor again. I ultimately didn’t end up making as many graphics as I wanted to this semester, but that’s where the lesson comes from: communication is key to getting work done on time.

7. Copy Chief

My final job at the Collegian, and the job I’m doing one last time tonight as I write this. Well, I guess this is it.

I was technically the copy chief once per week a few semesters ago because I was the only copy editor available on Sundays, but now I’m the real deal — the big cheese on top of the world’s most grammatically correct pizza.

Being copy chief is the most stressful position I’ve had at this company because there’s always something to fix, and the so-called fun never ends. I’m like a janitor for sentences, wondering when I can stop cleaning up this mess of words.

Still, one final lesson was learned despite the late nights three times a week and the endless rants about commas and prepositional phrases.

The most important thing I learned in the best job I’ve ever had was how to connect with incredibly awesome people and be the best version of myself.

This is Kyle Hampel, signing off. Take it away, opinion disclaimer.

Kyle Hampel is the copy chief and deputy multimedia editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

Those words you just read were written by me, Kyle Hampel. I am a 2019 graduate in English. I have strong feelings about barbeque pizza and the Oxford comma. I am a former copy chief, community editor, feature editor, designer and deputy multimedia editor. Beloit, Kansas, is proud to call me their own, along with several other towns I've lived in that aren't as special to me.