At the end of my term as assignments editor of the 137th board of The Daily Pennsylvanian, I was feeling burned out.
In 2021, I probably spent more time in the windowless DP office than in my apartment. I certainly spent more time with my fearless Blue Room teammates Conor and Pia than with my roommates. I lost out on time spent with friends, home-cooked meals and full nights of sleep. I let my schoolwork and internship responsibilities fall by the wayside.
But I also gained a love for journalism that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else on campus.
I learned how to report and edit, how to manage interpersonal conflicts, how to trust others, and how to trust myself. I gained a hunger for reporting, for generating story ideas and for asking the right questions. I received mentorship from the countless others who came before me and graciously shared advice about how to improve my reporting skills and find a job as a journalist.
I made many of my best friends at Penn at the DP, people who I will remain close with for years to come. I also had the opportunity to train an amazing team of first-time reporters and watch them improve with every article they wrote. These reporters are now leading the news department, breaking news and publishing groundbreaking investigations.
It was difficult for me to reconcile my love for the DP with the inklings of resentment I felt towards it for making me miss out on other things that were equally important to me.
As the end of my term as assignments editor drew near, I weighed the tough decision: Would I submerge myself even deeper into the throes of the DP by running for another board position, or would I hop on a plane to study abroad and leave the DP behind?
The DP had become my entire identity. It consumed me. And strangely, it was making my love for journalism falter. I ultimately decided not to run for the 138th board and instead, hopped on a plane from Newark Airport to Barcelona, Spain.
It was one of the best decisions I made in the last four years, second only to walking through the doors of the DP’s office at 4015 Walnut St.
The Slack notifications stopped rolling in and I ignored my DP email account. I could finally take a deep breath and leave “University Notification” emails sitting untouched in my inbox. The time I spent in Barcelona was my favorite semester of college. I made many new friends and returned to the United States with a much stronger command of Spanish and a desire to keep improving.
After returning from abroad, I made another tough decision not to go back to the DP as a reporter. Instead, I worked at NBC10 Philadelphia and Telemundo 62, where I was able to tell stories in English and Spanish. This opportunity taught me so much and also showed me the power of a set schedule and a paycheck for fighting burnout.
If it wasn’t for my time at the DP, I would have never landed the job at NBC or decided to pursue a job as a reporter after graduation. I’m eternally grateful for the lessons the DP has taught me and the path it has cleared for me as an aspiring journalist. It’s the best place I could have asked to call my home at Penn.
If I had written this column one year ago it would have looked very different. I would have sounded resentful and angry, tired and overworked. But after taking a step back, I see the DP in a much brighter light.
I cannot thank everyone at the DP enough for setting me on the path to becoming a reporter. I will cherish all the late nights spent running around the office, the newsroom pizza and greasy Chinese food, and the lessons I learned the hard way from every mistake I made.
Thank you to Pia and Conor for being the best Blue Room team. I would not have made it through the year without you both. Thank you to Hadriana for showing me the path from our high school newspaper, to the DP, to full-time reporters. Thank you to Ashley for editing my work and pushing me to become a better reporter. Thank you to Brittany and Tori for being great friends and making me laugh during every production night spent in the pink palace. Thank you to Delaney, Saya, and all of the other editors and reporters who will continue the DP’s legacy and make it an even better place than it is now.
And most importantly, thank you to everyone who has trusted me to tell their stories and to everyone who has read them. I urge you to continue supporting student journalists and local news in your community.
It’s okay to need a break from the DP and it’s okay to take one. The DP will always be there for you and the lessons it teaches you will never go away.
Always, Daily Penn.
HANNAH GROSS is a College senior studying political science and Hispanic studies from South Orange, N.J. She served as the assignments editor on the 137th Board of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. Previously, she was a deputy news editor, beat reporter, and copy editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.