When I boarded my flight from Victoria to Fernie in November, I had no idea the adventure that I was embarking on.
My journey as a journalist started in Grade 11. I signed up for the journalism and creative writing career and personal planning program at my high school. I became the editor of the little newspaper we put out and of our yearbook. But in Grade 12 I changed my mind (as most teenagers do) and I shifted my focus to law school.
In university one very big distraction and passion emerged: food. I became obsessed, and still am. When you meet me, one of the first things you’ll notice is the big antique fork I have tattooed on my right forearm. Yep, I am obsessed.
It’s not that I love eating food, as much as I love cooking and baking. I read books about food, I read blogs about food, I watch documentaries about food and I listen to food podcasts.
My friends started saying, “Megan maybe you should go to culinary school.” And that’s what almost happened.
Around that time, I also ended up writing a food blog. I would cook for my nine roommates, friends and really anyone who was around, and I would take pictures and write about it. I realized at that time that I like writing almost about it as much as I loved cooking. And, the idea of journalism floated back from the graveyard of high school ambitions.
I started researching journalism programs and realized that I was lucky to be living in Vancouver, close to one of the oldest journalism schools in western Canada. I filled out the application online, and hit the send button.
While taking my entrance exam for the journalism certificate program at Langara College, the head of the department told the crowd of eager journalists that only a couple dozen of us would get in, so it might be a good idea to come up with a back-up plan. I went home and started looking up culinary schools in Vancouver.
I toured the culinary arts program at the Vancouver Community College and heard the “what you should know before you apply” speech.
The instructor giving the tour essentially said “this is a high stress industry. It is the industry with the highest rate of divorce and the highest rate of alcoholism.” For some warped reason, I sat there with a smile on my face, and thought that doesn’t sound bad to me.
Again, I went home, sat down at my computer, filled out the application and hit send.
Months went by and finally in one week, I received an acceptance letter from Langara and another from Vancouver Community College. “Darn, how did this happen?” I thought. One of my clever friends said, just make a pros and cons list. Maybe it was a silly way to decide my career, but I did it anyways.
Pros for journalism: less stress, more regular work hours, better pay.
In the end, you know what I chose. But the funny thing is, everything I saw as a pro for journalism, was pretty inaccurate. But in the end, it didn’t matter. After a year in journalism school, internships with the CBC, including working for BC Almanac during the Vancouver 2010 Games, I was bit by the journalism bug, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I did go back to the culinary industry for a bit, but after a leg injury, and a bit of soul searching, I realized I missed journalism and got back on the computer and started looking for jobs.
I applied for jobs all over BC. After a phone interview with The Free Press in Fernie, I was offered the job, and a month later I was on a plane to a town I had never been to, where I knew no one.
I became a sports reporter, covering the Fernie Ghostriders. I learned about the unique dynamics of a city with a strong environmental community and an equally strong rod and gun club and I learned how much I love small towns in the Kootenays.
When the opportunity to move to another paper came up a few weeks ago, I started thinking of where I would want to move. One of my former co-workers and friends said to me “Maybe it needs to be as much about lifestyle as it is about your career.” When she said that, I knew I wouldn’t be going back to Victoria or Vancouver, and that I would stay in the mountains.
It feels like I’ve been in Nelson for months. Something about it seems familiar, like an old friend I haven’t seen in years. I’m excited to learn about Nelson and get to know the people and stories of this great town.