The Accountant to Journalist Pipeline: A 19 Year Journey

Throughout the first seventeen years of my life, I constantly questioned what I wanted my future to look like. Quick phases crept into my mind and left just as fast. I always got into my head about whether a job was worth it if you weren’t 100% certain that you would make a six-figure paycheck from it. 

In early high school, I saw myself going to New York University, learning about business and staying in the city to work on Wall Street. I always liked math and was (surprisingly) good at it, too. So why not do something that everyone says is a safe option?

This business idea transformed into accounting as high school went on. Then, during the second half of my senior year, I took an accounting class and did not do well in it. I realized that doing something I wasn’t exactly passionate about, or good at, could potentially not be what I bet the rest of my life on. People who know me now are probably puzzled by this when I tell them my original life plan. 

Currently, I am a junior at SUNY New Paltz. I applied to this university for said accounting major, which turned to “undecided” before I even arrived. It was my second top school below the University of Vermont. I got into both, but could not afford to go to my top choice and was scared of adjusting to a new life that was five hours away from the one I was living. 

New Paltz seemed like a reasonable second. The people appeared to be cool and I met a lot of my current friends on Facebook from liking the same music or activities. Most of the friends that I’ve made over the past two years here have been made over having the same favorite artist. 

Since I was younger, I always loved music. I remember listening to “Fearless” by Taylor Swift on my dark gray iPod, the first one that I had in a long range of Apple products. I was around five years old when that album came out. As time went on, I kept buying albums on iTunes. I preordered them when they went live and eagerly waited for the day when I went on my phone’s Music app to see them there and to be able to listen to them.

Something that I always fixated on in music was the lyrics in songs. I was always so interested in knowing what an artist was saying beyond a catchy pop or sad alternative song I heard on the radio. I attribute this feeling to always listening to artists who cared so deeply about songwriting.

My favorite singers, such as Swift, as previously mentioned, were and still are ones that build worlds within their music. I think “Melodrama” by Lorde formed a large part of how I interpret emotions just from how specifically she described her situations, surroundings and feelings. Even though I wasn’t 19 and going through a breakup in New York City, the album came out when I was starting to learn how to love. Some songwriting pieces together feelings that you may not have been able to find a way to describe until you heard certain lyrics describing them.

Currently, the songs or albums that I base my walks to class and homework dorm sessions around are happier than the insanely depressing music of my teens. 

As someone with minimal musical talent besides the occasional mediocre guitar playing and Notes app song lyrics, it took me this long to think of something I could do that uses my love of music without having to play it myself. 

I’ve always loved talking about music with people. Whether it be learning what their thoughts are on an album or artist are or what their favorite song on an album is — it’s my favorite thing to talk about. 

I never wanted to be a journalist. I never had this dead-set thinking for my whole life or a dream of working for the New York Times. I never even remotely thought about journalism until the latter half of my freshman year of college. I loved writing little poems and fake album reviews on my phone. I always wanted to do something with it but never knew how.

Writing was something that I always greatly appreciated but I was afraid of. It seemed like this untouchable thing, in the sense that sharing my writing with people would be sharing emotions that I may not be the best at saying out loud.

I started taking journalism classes and never had a doubt in my mind that it was what I wanted to do. I think I’ve always had this mindset that I wanted to have a job that had an impact on people. I think writing about the influence something had on me and putting it into words is something I’ve learned is as important as the art itself. An impact on people like the impact that music journalists have on me when I anxiously await the reviews of an album to come out that I’ve been anticipating for months. 

So now the New York Times dream is relatively there and I’m applying for internships for this upcoming summer, I’m feeling very anxious but also very content with my aspirations. For the first time in my life I have narrowed down the crazy amount of dreams that I have had to just the one of being a writer in the city. One part of my original dream is still there but I’ve figured out the rest of it. Now I’m just not as good at math as I used to be. 

About Justin Donders 12 Articles
Justin Donders is a second-year journalism major, with a minor in creative writing. This is his first year with The Oracle. He has always enjoyed writing, specifically poetry or music reviews. Outside of school, he works at a cafe and enjoys spending time with friends and listening to new music.

1 Comment

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article. It gave me a broader window into who Justin is and I really loved getting to know you better through your written thoughts. Your Gram is an incredible writer and always makes me laugh! I’ve bugged her a few times about writing more. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Follow your dreams dear one!

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