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The value of publishing your writing

Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Rya Buckley on how writing for a blog or news outlet allows you to make connections and gain new skills, regardless of your field. This is ­­her third story in our graduate voices series.

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By Rya Buckley

I once thought that I wanted to pursue a career in journalism, so I started writing for my high school magazine. Over the course of my four years there, my goals changed. I moved away from the idea of journalism to the possibility of a science degree but, regardless of this shift, I continued writing for the school magazine.

“You serve as a teacher for your readers and have the opportunity to become an expert.”

In university, I ended up applying for and getting a job at my school newspaper. I was tasked with writing two articles weekly for six months of the school year and it challenged me in ways I didn’t expect. I learned so many valuable lessons in my time as a reporter.

In trying to attract more writers, my school paper always states how valuable publishing articles can be—whether or not the topic aligns with your field of study. I’ve come to learn that it’s not just talk—whether it’s for a school, local or online publication—publishing written work has endless benefits.

Build connections and community

Writing for my school newspaper helped me to build a network of community members and peers. As a culture reporter, I connected weekly with entrepreneurs, artists, business owners and more. At the same time, I formed working relationships with my colleagues at the newspaper. By writing for the IB blog, I have gained access to a network of IB alumni around the world following diverse and intriguing paths.

“Writing for my school newspaper helped me to build a network of community members and peers.”

Beyond those you directly come into contact with, you will also build a community of readers. It was always an unexpected delight for me when an acquaintance of mine commented on or complimented my pieces. These interactions reminded me of the power of my words.

Many of the connections you may build by writing will feel temporary. However, you simply never know where those connections will lead. Even with temporary connections, regular interactions with new people build important soft skills. I learned how to converse by spending all these fleeting moments communicating with strangers.

Learn something new

Writing about culture was a continuous learning experience. As I spoke with community members that lived and worked in the city where I simply attended school, the stereotypes I had grown up hearing fell away. I learned about the history and the revival of the city and gained a new appreciation for it.

“I gain[ed] a greater appreciation for different aspects of culture”

By the same token, I was learning a little bit about different businesses. Restaurant owners shared their motivations with me. Visual artists told me the process of constructing their work. Songwriters spoke to me of their inspiration. I learned about new organizations and the needs of different communities. Not only did I gain a greater appreciation for different aspects of culture, I began to similarly think about what was inspiring and motivating me to tell the stories I was telling.

Writing about the information that you discover allows you to share it with others who may be equally interested in learning new things. You serve as a teacher for your readers and have the opportunity to become an expert.

Improve your soft skills

Most soft skills are only improved through practice and use. For me, reporting honed so many skills—critical thinking, inclusive thinking, verbal and written communication skills and most obviously, writing skills.

Having a job that forced me to write was a wonderful way to sharpen the skill. Often, the writing you will do for a blog or publication may vary from the academic writing you require in school or the technical writing you need for work. However, the principles that you strive for are often the same—conciseness, clarity, interest. Every week I got to practice getting a point across in a way that captivated readers.

So, if you’ve ever considered writing for a publication, take this as a sign to get started. With all the great experiences and skills you’ll gain, it’ll be well worth it.

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Rya Buckley is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier Secondary School in Canada and continued her studies at McMaster University. She is a Biology and Psychology major with a love of reading and writing.

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at alumni.relations@ibo.org. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram!

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