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An unexpectedly rewarding experience

| Friday, May 15, 2015

While studying in Dublin during the fall of junior year, I received an e-mail from the Graphics Editor at The Observer, expressing her interest in my joining the graphics team for the paper. I knew people that had worked at the paper, in that mysterious room in the underbelly of South Dining Hall, but still felt a sense of strange sense of wonder toward the idea of becoming a part of this behind-the-scenes journalistic crew.

Joining The Observer felt like the opportunity to get an inside look at Santa’s workshop, where elves were nightly editors, and instead of toys, they produced papers. So, out of curiosity and a desperate desire for some cash, I decided I’d join the graphics team upon my return to Notre Dame in the spring semester. Little did I know at the time, I would be interviewed and asked to be the new Graphics Editor only two weeks after my start at the paper. This was as much of a surprise to me as anyone. Even more surprising, I said yes.

However, this abrupt evolution of my involvement with The Observer didn’t intimidate or overwhelm me. I felt honored to be so wholly accepted and embraced into this community, despite being an inexperienced newcomer. I felt challenged to live up to the enthusiasm and hard work of prior and fellow Editors. I felt excited to be able to contribute my own personal vision to the paper, to be a leader among this community and to use this role in order to understand and influence the role of graphics in the news.

Being Graphics Editor was so much more than simply sitting at a computer and making art to go along with stories. Being Graphics Editor meant late nights of deadlines and technological frustration and stress-eating gummies. It meant convincing everyone I was a real-life wizard whenever using Photoshop. It meant spending hours in a conference room conversing ideas with people dedicated to sharing voices and stories with truth and accuracy.

A year later, I can say that my somewhat impulsive acceptance of the role as Graphics Editor turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly rewarding experiences from my time at Notre Dame. A simple description of my job would be that I sat at a computer and made art to go along with stories. But the reality is that I became a part of a bigger community. A community of talented, passionate, hardworking people who are dedicated to not only to producing a newspaper, but also making it the best possible daily source of news. I feel lucky to have been a part of this community, to have had the shared experiences only those brave enough to wander into that mysterious basement office will ever be able to understand.

Keri O’Mara is a graduating senior BFA in visual communication design. If you want to share any corgi-related media with her, or just pictures of dogs in sunglasses, send it over to @keriomara on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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