When I applied to graduate school, I fully intended on using the opportunity to return to college as only a student. I planned to rid the other half of my college identity as an athlete. I wanted to absolutely take on the role of student; allow more time for myself to explore options like Greek life or socializing or being allowed to maybe go out on a weeknight. However, letting go of sport is harder than it seems.
The decision was tough. I sat on it for a long time. Either way, I knew that this would be the first year that my priorities had to change. School first, sport second. I would officially put my writing and opportunities to network on the frontline and put the competition and training on the back burner—for any athlete, this is far easier said than done.
As an athlete, when you’re not devoting the right amount of time and energy to your sport, you feel guilty. Yet, joining any Newhouse program, not taking the opportunities handed to you feels like you’re wasting your time and not taking it seriously. It feels like you can never win.
The reason we pick up the hockey stick, shoot the first hoop or learn to devote an insane amount of effort to any sport is because we are innately competitive and willing to challenge ourselves. That part of us is not something we can rid ourselves of.
This year, I’ve had to work harder than ever to manage my energy. To apply my competitiveness to working behind my laptop and on the rowing machine.
This is the first year I’ve learned more from my non-athlete friends of what competitiveness looks like in the classroom and that there is more that can be done in preparation for applying for a job. Newhouse prioritizes getting clips, getting our names on the byline and making the right connections. If this is where I needed to focus my energy, then that is what I intended to do.
Upon my arrival and the start of Boot Camp, this was easy. It was the summer, which meant no training and therefore, the option to go with the cohort for drinks downtown after the 9-5 graphic design lab every Friday. However, we are now halfway through the entire program.
Since the fall started, we have jumped the start line of finding jobs on and off campus; getting publications to notice us; and making those connections to get a job offer by the end of our time here. For the athletes, it was adjusting class schedules around training schedules and finding time throughout the day to stop by Grab and Go at Manley Fieldhouse, or an hour to take a nap. For the first time, I was neither here nor there. I worked double time. Applying for every job and opportunity under the sun to get ahead, then training hard to catch up on fitness and left with no time for rest. And now more than ever, rest really matters.
But this is my message: there are ways to find the balance. I found a fall internship through a rowing magazine called Rowing News. I could take the time I spent training and reflect on it in my off time by writing about my sport. I could combine the two worlds. I found an opportunity that doesn’t feel like it takes up any time at all.
This is how you know you’ve found your place. Anyone with a runaround schedule, find work that feels like it in no way takes up time in your day. So that you can afford to take the night off, binge “Squid Game,” or call home, even adopt a cat. It is one year where we get to push ourselves, but also more time to find what makes us happy.
Jamey Bulloch is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.