Class of 2020: Where are they now? Jenna Ortiz

The next generation of journalists graduated in 2020 into a challenging job market unlike any other. We spotlighted them this summer, shared advice from their role models, and are checking in with them this month to see where they are now and what they’re learning about journalism. 

Name: Jenna Ortiz

School: Arizona State University

Current job: Sports reporter, The Aberdeen American News

Best moment in journalism: Canada Day graphics creation

Where are you working right now? Is the position full-time, part-time or an internship?

Ortiz: I am currently working as the full-time sports reporter for The Aberdeen American News, a Gannett-owned newspaper in Aberdeen, South Dakota. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job search?

Ortiz: I’ve learned about how important your mentor network is throughout this process. I was fortunate to have met some great people throughout college and staying connected with them. We had more free time in this pandemic and they were gracious with allowing me to voice my opinions on jobs and my future. They gave me great advice about how the first job is a stepping stone to where you want to go in the future. 

What’s been your best moment in journalism since graduation?

Ortiz: The time after graduation was an interesting time because I moved back to California where it was still an intense lockdown. I didn’t have much to do, but I challenged myself to find new things to create on Adobe Photoshop. I had all my images to work with from the past school year and I created graphics from them. One project I created was a series of graphics for Canada Day that highlighted a few of their top players on the women’s national team. I had shot a women’s hockey event just before all sports had shut down and I wanted to use my images again somehow. I posted the graphics on social media and all three players featured shared the work. Sarah Nurse even went further to thank me on Twitter and then shared the work on Instagram. CCM, a major hockey brand, shared her post and it was surreal to see something I created on a major brand’s account. 

What do you wish you had learned as a student that you’re learning on the job?

Ortiz: Time management is huge! I now am the only person in the sports section and am responsible for the written coverage and photos in the paper. It’s hard to find time when I have to make sure all the bases are covered. There are times when things can’t be covered and it’s hard. I have a lot on my plate and I don’t always know what to do.

Have your journalism goals changed since graduation, and if so how?

Ortiz: I’m still reminded almost every day on the job how much I want to cover hockey full-time. Aberdeen has a junior hockey team and I love covering them so much. Whenever I’m in the rink, I instantly feel better and am excited for a future where that can be my office. I love the stories I’ve encountered here, but I want a future where I can give my full energy to the hockey beat.

What’s the NEW wackiest story you’ve ever worked on?

Ortiz: My first story here was about a driver who performs a stunt at racing events where he drives his car straight into a mobile home. I had never done anything in the racing realm and this was a crazy introduction to that world. South Dakota is such a new experience for me and I am learning something different almost every day.

How are you taking care of yourself and staying motivated right now?

Ortiz: I have limits for myself in terms of when I’m online. I can’t be on the clock all the time and work out in the mornings to get my days off right. I also am starting to make friends and I’m trying to get quality time with them. People are great to have around and they help me relax more. As for motivation, I enjoy moments after interviews when I realize how great their story is and how exciting it will be to share it with others. And again, the rink is a great place to be for me.

Read Ortiz’s original profile here.

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