Interview by Jaclyn Mika (RSJ '08).
Patricia Karounos, RSJ '17, is a writer/editor. This interview was conducted when she was Associate Editor, ELLE Canada.
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
Honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I first enrolled in journalism school. All I knew as a teenager while going through the application process was that I loved storytelling. Journalism seemed like a great way to get to do that.
Thinking back to your first-year self, how do you think they would react to where you are now?
I think my first-year self would be proud of where I am now. I’ve come a long way since I was that anxious, uncertain teenager. I’ve learned a lot—I still am learning—have worked really hard, and have found something I really love to do. That’s all I could have asked from myself.
What do you think the RSJ experience offers that you can’t get anywhere else?
I’m far from the first person to say this, and I won’t be to last, but the practical, hands-on experience you get at RSJ is like nothing else. You’re treated seriously as a journalist from the moment you walk into those doors, and are given the opportunity to do the work, all in a classroom setting, which means having a support system so that when you make a mistake—and you will—it won’t feel like the end of the world. Then you can go work on one of the many amazing student-run publications on campus and make the same mistakes—but have a better idea of how to deal with them this time.
What have you done since graduating/how did you arrive at your current position?
I was an intern at ELLE Canada in late 2016, during my fourth year of j-school. I loved it there and I loved the super talented team, so I stayed in touch with them. Luckily, a few months after I had graduated, they were looking for an editorial assistant and I obviously jumped at the opportunity. I started in early 2018 and I’m still here.
How has your journalism degree and what you learned in school prepared you for your current career?
My time at Ryerson really helped equip me for the day-to-day of being a journalist. I learned how to pitch, write better, edit, and conduct interviews. Perhaps more importantly, I learned how to work with an editor, develop a news sense and work on deadline. These are skills I use every single day.
Can you talk about one of the biggest accomplishments you've made?
Recently, I was promoted to an associate editor position at ELLE Canada, which I’m so excited about. I’m proud of the fact that through hard work and the skills I learned at j-school, I’ve proven myself to be reliable and capable. Of course, I’ve also learned a lot at my time at ELLE, and am also eager to keep learning and growing.
What's one of your favourite memories from j-school?
I will never forget the frantic rush of being in third year (which is an extremely stressful time) and putting together that year’s print edition of student-run general interest magazine Ryerson Folio, led by our editor-in-chief Erica Ngao. For most of us, it was the first time creating a magazine from scratch, and we were doing it all by ourselves. But we met our deadline and finally seeing the physical copies was thrilling. (This is also serving as a reminder for any current students: go volunteer at Folio!)
Any memorable RSJ professors during your time at Ryerson?
I learned so much from so many incredible RSJ professors during my four years in the program. Cathy Dunphy’s first-year news reporting class felt like a crash course, and helped me build a strong foundation of essential skills and made me feel like I’d made the right choice; Adrian Ma and Asmaa Malik’s digital journalism classes inspired me to be creative and explore how the different ways stories could be presented; and Kamal Al-Solaylee was such a brilliant, calming presence at the front of the classroom, which reminded the stressed out fourth-year student I was to take a deep breath and remember what it was I loved about journalism to begin with.
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
The transferrable skills you learn in j-school are just as important as the foundational journalism skills you’ll learn, so pay attention to them! I would not be where I am if I wasn’t able to adapt to changes in situation and circumstance, for example. These are skills that will help you regardless of where you end up.