The first time I saw her, I was ten. She wore a black shirt that spelled “The Beatles”, a newspaper, a to-go coffee cup. She was the first movie character to inspire me since Peter Pan and – fittingly, considering her predecessor – I looked at her and knew: this is me when I grow up.
The woman is Eva Mendes as Sara Melas in the 2005 movie Hitch. Pre-teen me watched it countless times. While, yes, the storyline is fun and witty and romantic, the reason was her. A power woman, a workaholic, and: a reporter. So, if you ask me when I knew I wanted to be a journalist: it was her. So simple, so effective. It stuck. Just as Peter Pan reminds me that part of me won’t ever grow up, Melas’ energy still is the essence of so many things I strive to become.
Short years later, a teacher, another student, and I created the first student-magazine for my school. As editor-in-chief, I organized students and weekly meetings, planned articles, and let my passion for design flourish in production. What followed were interviews with teachers and profiles of students, writing about fashion and school scandals. And, of course, fights with the student representative before becoming head girl myself.
While my pre-college internship in PR at Carolina Herrera in New York gave me a glimpse at another side of media, Zeppelin University let me explore more dimensions. Especially: radio. What started with a morning show in my freshman year, developed into hosting between two and four shows a week at welle20, our very own radio station. Six months in, I was voted editorial director – a position I held for two years, longer than most others before me.
I found ways to delve into journalism; interning with the feminist online magazine EditionF, where I first got published, and with the outdoor print magazine Big Life in Idaho, where I learned the differences between 24-7-online and quarterly publishing; the day-to-day rhythms. And of course, the adventures journalism can hold: press screenings of movies and interviewing exciting people, reporting on topics miles from my comfort zone, and being invited on press trips to Utah and California.
Thanks to my radio experience, one of the professors asked me for help launching his podcast. As we developed his project, I realized how undiscovered podcasts were in academia. He became the supervisor for a research paper and, later, my bachelor thesis. At that time, “podcast” did not even have a German Wikipedia page. As I had explored aspects of journalism in previous papers, this felt like the perfect summary of four years of studying. It also went hand in hand with my favorite feedback on my papers: „(…) style is too journalistic.“
You know how people tell you “You’re so young, so talented, the world is your oyster!”?
Well, I got lost in that oyster. After graduating, I challenged myself to explore other talents. I learned to code in Barcelona, took up an art direction program in Berlin, interned with different agencies, taught yoga – great challenges, huge learning experience. All in the spirit of broadening horizons. Still, often enough I felt like a British car on the German Autobahn.
Searching for paths back to streets that feel like I belong, I picked up podcasting and widened my comfort zone, again: politics. Early 2021 a friend and I launched our podcast with the ambition to shed light on German elections. We knew we had succeeded to keep our personal opinions from tainting our objectivity when we got awarded ‘Political Influencers in the Media’ by ‘Hanns Seidel Foundation for Democracy’ in October.
Amid podcasting and graduating from Miami Ad School, I stumbled upon a job that promised to helicopter me back onto my highway: a traineeship with mit Vergnügen Podcast. On top of everything I already did, I started the job that lets me feel like I’m where I belong: planning, producing, and promoting podcasts, playing in journalistic waters.
My experience has taught me to channel my inner Sara Melas – Beatles-shirt or not – and to keep my Neverland alive. As with most things, the more I learn, the less I know. With every day of growing, I see how much room there is to grow into. I hope that through CJS I will gain the skills and confidence to be the best writer, podcaster, producer, host – in short, the best journalist I can be.