This past summer, I completed the journalism minor after taking more than five classes over the course of 12 weeks. Since there are many other summer minors offered at UC Berkeley, I wanted to talk about my experience in hopes that my story might help others who may be thinking about doing a summer minor or those who are currently completing one.
Honestly, I was a little disappointed that I had to take summer classes in order to get a minor in journalism. This, of course, was before its program got expanded into year-round opportunity. However, I think this worked out for the best because it allowed me to complete two minors before I graduate.
When it comes to signing up for summer minor courses, I would recommend enrolling as soon as possible. Since the journalism program is quite popular, most of the interesting courses fill up very quickly. I was going into my junior year at the time I had to sign up for these courses, so this tactic made it a lot easier for me to get my desired classes.
Since classes were still completely virtual, I decided to finish the entire minor all at once so that I could focus on an internship the summer before my senior year while saving money. Looking back on it though, this came with a couple of setbacks that I didn’t anticipate.
During Summer Session A, I was only taking two classes for a total of four hours of lecture throughout the week, which I found manageable. When it came to Summer Session B, though, I had three classes simultaneously. This came to a total of six hours of lecture a day Monday through Friday. Mind you, this was my first time ever taking summer classes. By the time during Summer Session B came around, I was pretty overwhelmed. Most lectures were two hours long, which took me a while to get used to. Additionally, I had a class from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the week which I totally wouldn’t recommend. I sometimes felt distracted and tired due to the lectures being conducted so late.
Another aspect that I didn’t expect was that all of my courses had mandatory attendance being a large component of my grade. This made summer trips nearly impossible. The one trip I managed to take to Seattle resulted in a minor drop in my attendance grades. So, for those of you who are planning to travel a lot over the summer, I wouldn’t recommend doing a summer minor all at once.
Aside from the unexpected aspects, there were a lot of things that I loved about my summer experience. For example, I found all of the professors helpful. They all had really valuable advice when it comes to the world of journalism. It was also wonderful learning from guest speakers brought in by the professors. I got to hear from employees from Buzzfeed, The San Francisco Chronicle and freelance international reporters.
Another positive aspect was how hands-on the minor was and how much it mimicked the journalism industry. I was able to learn how to pitch an article, interview my own sources and write a piece with a tight deadline — all necessary skills for professional journalists. When I started writing for The Daily Californian and other publications, I found that the foundation I had gained from these courses were helpful. I was able to work on a bunch of different types of journalism, such as international reporting, social media and multimedia reporting.
For those who want to do a summer minor, I would recommend splitting the minor into two summers. This way you’d be able to balance enjoying your summer alongside the amazing courses UC Berkeley has to offer. Additionally, I’d suggest starting the minor as soon as possible since upperclassmen typically have other commitments during their last summers before graduating. If you plan on completing the minor in one summer to save money, prepare to be well organized and spend most of your weekends working on major assignments. You don’t want to fall behind, after all.
Overall, I thought my experience doing a summer minor was extremely valuable. Obviously, those completing a different minor will have a different experience than mine. Last summer gave me a strong academic foundation in the journalism field while simultaneously allowing me to directly work towards a future career in the field. With all the hard work I did last summer, I was amazed that I was able to finish my entire minor in one go. It was definitely an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.
Contact Samantha Herrera at [email protected].