I spent years becoming a journalist. Then I quit and became a copywriter. Here’s why.February 22, 2021
By Emily Bench, Copywriter and Content Strategist
Here’s a question everyone was asked as a kid: Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Notice, the question isn’t what job you want or what career you could see yourself in, but who do you want to be? In other words, figure out who you are.
It’s an innocent question to ask a child, but it can be a harder question to answer when you’re an adult. If you don’t know the answer, you could be considered flaky, unmotivated, or wishy-washy.
But what if it’s not that simple? That’s a question that took me, a former business journalist, on a journey to becoming a copywriter at Origo Branding.
The Big Break
Since I was a child, reading and writing were my thing, providing wonder and private freedom. I could enter a story as a character I truly identified with or create one from scratch.
When I went off to college at Otterbein University, I majored in Journalism and Media Communications. I wanted to be a reporter because I wanted to make an impact on the world around me through writing. So I joined the campus newspaper staff, quickly finding my place on campus telling stories.
During my senior year, I landed a competitive internship in the features department at The Columbus Dispatch. In that position, I felt confirmed that writing what I needed to do professionally. I was determined not to give up until I got a job as a writer.
After I graduated, I knocked on the door of every media company in Columbus looking for a job, but I quickly learned writing jobs were sparse in Columbus. I eventually picked up the phone and called Columbus Business First, and they had an open position. They were looking for someone with several years of reporting under their belt, but I insisted that my passion and willingness to learn could outweigh my lack of experience. And it worked: I started immediately.
Making the Jump
I earned my chops covering the business of sports, education, and the arts, things I knew little about as a 22-year-old. I covered some of the year’s biggest news, including Columbus Crew fans saving the team from a move to Austin, Texas, and the suspension of Urban Meyer from Ohio State University. I spoke on radio talk shows and networking events and met some of the city’s most influential leaders. It was a fantastic way to begin my career as a writer.
Despite landing what I thought was my dream role, the role that my parents bragged about, and the role that looked amazing on my LinkedIn account, I realized something was missing. I couldn’t stop thinking back to journalism school. There I learned that my job as a journalist was to inform with unbiased facts, not persuade.
What made me love writing so much as a child was the ability to tell a story and provoke emotion. In order to do that kind of writing, I had to make a change. This was scary to think about because I was worried about being seen as just another directionless millennial.
I realized that none of that mattered. People change, and so do career aspirations. We are so comfortable with changing wardrobes, living situations, or hobbies, but that same grace doesn’t always extend to career changes. I wanted to give myself the freedom to evolve.
So after a lot of consideration, I took a leap of faith and left the career I thought was my dream to become a copywriter. It was one of the scariest things I’ve done, and it was hard, but I am all the better for it. There were days where I questioned what I’d done, jobs I was turned down from, and days spent refreshing my inbox waiting for something to happen.
But then something did happen. I got a job as a Copywriter and Creative Specialist at a women’s leadership non-profit. And from there, my career as a copywriter officially began. Through that role, I learned the ropes of copywriting and persuasive writing alongside other amazing professional women. And I got reassurance that this kind of writing, though challenging and new to me, was what I wanted to do.
Forging a New Path
After some time there, I heard about an open position for a Copywriter and Content Strategist at Origo Branding. I knew the Creative Director, Todd Novak, from a networking opportunity the year before and reached out to him to inquire about the role. Once I met with the team and learned more about the company and position, I knew it was the right fit for me. The position gave me the ability to cause action in my community through campaigns, public service programs, and integrated brand strategies.
I’ve now been at Origo for almost half a year, and the flame for storytelling that’d been flickering in me since I was a child has been kindled every day. The work is challenging, creative, and so rewarding.
So, to go back to my original question, did I figure out who I wanted to be? Yes and no. Over the past few years, I’ve realized that who I am isn’t based solely on my evolving career. Who I am is based on the impact I make in this world and the effect that can have on others. And at Origo, I think I’m just getting started.