I believe in connections.
I see them everywhere, every day. Whether it be between a comment a housemate made and a thought I had a couple months ago, or between an article I read online and the rules of a card game I used to play when I was younger. But the best kinds of connections are the ones between people.
When I look at people I know, I don’t just see them. I see all the organizations they’re involved in, all the people I know they’re connected to, all the events I’ve ever attended with them — any connection I know about comes to mind. To me, connections are what makes us who we are.
Every person has a different story, a different pool of knowledge and a different tree of connections. So, each time I say, “Hi, my name is Katie DeFiore. I’m a reporter for such and such publication, could I interview you real quick?” I tap into not just one story but the potential to be connected to hundreds more. I believe that as my tree of connections grows, I grow as an individual.
I came into college thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I would follow the stereotypical journalism path: get some experience at a small publication, then move on to a larger publication like the New York Times and then work my way up to the top.
What I really wanted was to have my own podcast series, but, at the time, this seemed like a much riskier path. So, I kept my side blinders up and my eyes on the prize I could see but didn’t really want. And so, I was done. I didn’t have to look around anymore, only forward.
I kept this closed mindset up until spring semester of my freshman year at Penn State, when I became a student life reporter at the Daily Collegian. I found out about a grad student named Jess Menhold who was working to create prosthetics out of a more affordable material. At the time, she just seemed like a great person for my first profile story. I never guessed connecting with her would change the course of my college career.
She introduced me to the entrepreneurship community at Penn State.
At first, I was just blown away by how many amazing stories there were to tell. After meeting her, I had no trouble finding another interesting student to profile. For a little while, I was known as the entrepreneurship reporter. But, as my tree of connections within this particular community continued to expand, I was no longer an outsider looking in. The community became my own, and I became an entrepreneurial reporter. I was hooked.
And so I believe that each and every connection you make has the potential of turning into a friendship, a job, a goal, or even the first chapter of the rest of your life.
Katie DeFiore is a WPSU intern and a journalism major at Penn State University Park.