The Spectrum is Value-Added
Fact: Being a Spectrum alumnus is not a well-lit path down Journalism Road after graduation.
A cursory examination of my Facebook friends' employers confirms this. Only half are employed in fields where words are the primary output.
With my employer - Child Labor Services, Inc. ("Your mine, our minors") – my primary output these days is throwing No.2 pencils into ceiling titles and chasing squirrels with a fireman's ax.
Fact: Being a Spectrum alumnus, in and of itself, does not increase your attractiveness to potential sex partners.
Straight women and gay men were immune to my advances. Lesbians simply laughed.
Fact: Being a Spectrum alumni does not increase children's respect for you.
My illiterate son (Class of 2031) does not care how many opinion columns I wrote years before I could read him "Goodnight Moon."
He still laughs at me every time I cry after Stevie Johnson drops a touchdown pass in the end zone.
Fact: Joining The Spectrum will make it harder to get that degree your mother is happy you pretend to care about.
I only managed to an "A-" in my Weimar Germany history class! Outrage.
Fact: The Spectrum is a worthwhile institution and worth your time and energy.
There were numerous moments of note during my tenure at The Spectrum. The time we printed a blank front page on purpose. The time we impeached the editor in chief. The time assholes made the Empire State Building the tallest building in Manhattan. The time we beat Generation magazine at LaserTron. All in all, some noteworthy events.
These moments populate the highlight reel, but are no means the sum total of why working at The Spectrum meant so much to me. I've drifted out of the university's orbit since graduating in 2002. Still, I wager a common complaint from students remains the impersonal, anonymous nature of campus life among the teeming, for-some-reason Red Sox-hatted multitudes.
You need to join something in order to feel like you belong - insight only available after years of toil in the real world. It's not enough to be a student at UB. Academics alone make a long and boring four (or more) years. That buzzing, shuffling multitude of your classmates is always present, most barely recognizable. ("Did I just pass that dude from Saturday night's party? He wasn't bent over a porch railing throwing up what he ate in December, so I couldn't tell.")
I didn't want the multitude to disappear. I just needed to know some of them. I saw an ad in The Spectrum for writers. I signed up. After one semester as a writer, I was invited to come aboard as an editor, features and then editorial. The Spectrum office quickly became my clubhouse. Not exactly a home away from home, but more a sanctuary from home. Living with the parents has benefits, no doubt. The toilet is always clean, and by someone else. But it is enjoyable to have a place to go where the people around you find it odd if there aren't soy sauce packets in the pencil cup. I belonged somewhere, even being agnostic toward soy sauce.
If you're interested in a career in journalism or communications 1) I can hear your mother crying and 2) The Spectrum is a terrific experience, especially as an editorial staff member. But please don't view this institution has a resume padder. It's an opportunity to bond with your peers, broaden your worldview (you might learn those of a different philosophy aren't baby-eating savages) and make some good friends.
Plus, you know, eternal glory. Shape the past for future generations. Your name and tales carved into the stone of human history. Just watch the typos. Stone does not autocorrect.
Fact: Working at The Spectrum was the best decision I made at UB.