Getting Involved: Student Organizations

One of the easiest ways to get involved and make friends is to join one, or several, student organizations on campus.

There are over 500 student organizations to choose from at the University of Iowa, ranging from hundreds of members to only a few.

As a double major in Sport and Recreation Management and Journalism and Mass Communication, my interests include things like marketing, public relations, and journalism.

Current Student Orgs

I’m currently a member of these two student orgs.

Sport and Recreation Management Club

“The mission of the organization is to further the professional development of The University of Iowa Sport and Recreation Management students. It provides a platform for people to network amongst others in the program, gain valuable experience alongside program courses, and learn more about the local Iowa sports community.”

This student org is in its first year at the University of Iowa, and is always looking to add more members. I found out about it through one of the SRM (Sport and Recreation Management) classes I was taking during first semester.

During meetings, we often have a guest speaker and talk about upcoming networking events or ways to volunteer with the athletic department. I currently hold the Sports Information Chair, but, due to schedule conflicts, my attendance at meetings is limited this semester.

KRUI

“KRUI provides a real opportunity for students to be introduced to the radio broadcasting field. Although the University offers courses in radio broadcasting and audio journalism, only KRUI gives all students a chance to go beyond the classroom and experience the live atmosphere of broadcasting while still in school. Exposure to these actual situations allows students to gain confidence in themselves and their skills.”

KRUI happens to be the second largest student organization on campus. I found out about it through my Hawkeye Guide during orientation, who had been trying to recruit more members. He’s currently the Sports Director.

I joined specifically to write about sports online, but, admittedly, I have been slacking when it comes to that (really, really slacking). I also have the opportunity to produce athletic events or go on-air and talk about sports.

Future Student Orgs

I plan on becoming a member of these two student orgs within the next year.

PRSSA

“The University of Iowa Public Relations Student Society of America is a pre-professional organization for University of Iowa students interested in the field of public relations.”

I actually first found out about PRSSA by searching the web for ways to get involved in public relations and marketing at the University of Iowa. I’ve had other people recommend it to me since then.

It’s a great way to network, get tips for success, build a resume, and gain experience.

STAR

“STAR assists the Office of Admission in the recruitment of high school, transfer and non-traditional students through programs, activities, and events. We provide information about The University of Iowa’s programs, services, and special opportunities to prospective students and their families. STAR promotes The University of Iowa through contact with other students, parents, and alumni.”

I found out about STAR through the Office of Admissions’ Communications Coordinator when I was looking for ways to get involved with marketing.

This is a good way to gain some experience.

Honorable Mentions

These aren’t technically student orgs, but I wanted to include them.

The Daily Iowan

This is a student newspaper that works out of the Adler Journalism Building. It’s run by students and is independent from the University of Iowa. It’s definitely the best way to get your foot in the door on campus when it comes to journalism and communications.

I found out about The Daily Iowan during my campus visit junior year of high school. I planned on joining during my first year, but it hasn’t been in the cards for me yet. As of right now, I’m aiming to apply at the beginning of next school year.

Admissions Blogger

I found out about blogging for the Office of Admissions towards the beginning of my senior year of high school (don’t quote me on that). I really enjoyed reading the experiences of last year’s bloggers and I love writing, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity for me.

And now here I am.

 

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

College Q&A: Here’s The Truth

By this time last year, I knew where I would be attending college.

It came down to a battle between the University of Iowa and Florida State University. Truth be told, despite being born and raised in Iowa, FSU had been my dream school for as long as I can remember (for many reasons).

In the end, I chose the University of Iowa because of its location (it’s a lot closer to home) and cost of attendance (out-of-state tuition is insane), and because it felt like a place I could call home when I visited during my junior year of high school.

Let this be known: I don’t regret my decision of choosing Iowa over Florida State. Not even a little bit. (OK, maybe a tiny bit on days when it’s below zero here and I check the weather in Tallahassee.) It was the best decision for me at this point in my life, and I’m happy to call Iowa City my home.

I’ve truly grown to love the University of Iowa since starting classes a few months ago. I love the campus. I love the faculty. I love my classes. I love my job.

And I’m not just saying this because I blog for Iowa Admissions. It really is a university anyone would be happy and proud to say they will graduate (or have graduated) from.

Despite visiting and making the decision to attend the University of Iowa, I still had a lot of questions. I’ve thought back to this time last year and decided to answer the questions I had (as well as other random ones) with the knowledge I have about the University of Iowa today.

Did I make the right decision when choosing between schools?

I know I already touched on this, but I wanted to add on to what I said.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t attend your “dream school.” Dreams change all the time, and chances are you’ll love the school you choose just as much…if not more.

I’m going to be completely honest and tell you I really struggled with this decision. When I accepted my offer of admission to the University of Iowa, I spent days scolding myself for giving up on my dream. It took me a while to realize I hadn’t given up on my dream, but that I was putting that specific dream on hold. I wasn’t ready to move 1,200 miles away from home. I also didn’t want to go that far in student loan debt. In the end, I made a decision that was right for me and I’m happy.

It may sound ridiculous, but weigh the pros and cons of the colleges you’re choosing between. Rory Gilmore did it in “Gilmore Girls” when deciding between Harvard, her dream school, and Yale. (I won’t spoil which school she chose.) Decide what’s most important to you, and go with it.

I came to terms with my decision when I realized I have another dream—a bigger dream—that involves working for a collegiate or professional sports organization. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a dream. It’s an end goal (an outcome I won’t compromise) for me, and college is a means goal (a path in which to reach my end goal). The college I attend isn’t going to stop me from reaching my end goal, but how I spend my time in college can.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Florida State is a dream I’ll probably never give up. Because who knows? Maybe someday it’ll be in the cards for me.

What I do know is this: I will be proud, and privileged, to graduate and have a degree from the University of Iowa. What I do with that degree, however, is up to me.

Do I have to choose a major right away?

No. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like most people wait a year or two to decide on their major. Work on completing the general education requirements and think about what your interests are, where you see yourself in ten years, and so on.

And if you do pick a major but want to change it later on, then change it. Talk to your advisor. Talk to your parents. You’ll be fine.

I came into college knowing I would double major in Sport and Recreation Management and Journalism and Mass Communication. It wasn’t a hard decision for me, but it can be for others. It’s scary to think about what you might be doing for the rest of your life.

(I will talk more independently about my majors and the opportunities they provide in the future, specifically the Sport and Recreation Management program.)

What if I can’t find someone to room with and I get randomly matched?

Searching for a roommate is an awkward experience, or at least it was for me. It felt weird messaging and talking to random girls about possibly being roommates. Eventually I decided I’d let fate run its course.

I’m thankful to say my roommate and I get along incredibly well. We went to schools that played each other in some sports, and we have quite a bit in common. I’d go as far to say one of the biggest differences between the two of us is that she’s a Green Bay Packers fan and I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan, but we make it work.

I may have lucked out in the roommate department because I have heard horror stories about getting randomly matched. Just remember, it’s only temporary and, if you don’t get along, you can always swap rooms.

How do I manage my time?

That’s a good question, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

There are a lot of ways to keep track of your time, but actually getting in the habit of doing it is the hard part. You can use the calendar on your phone, a physical calendar, a planner, a bullet journal, and the list goes on.

It’s all about figuring out what works for you and getting in the habit of doing it.

Should I get a job?

Technically, I had a job during my first semester at the University of Iowa, but I was only a volunteer (I will start getting paid in Fall of 2018).

In general, I think it’s fine to wait a semester or two before getting a job unless you absolutely need one. And when you do decide to look around, you can use Hire A Hawk to help.

 

How are classes different from high school?

The easiest answer is they’re harder. You have to put more time in when it comes to assignments, papers, and studying for tests. If you fall behind, it can be really hard to catch back up.

What’s my favorite class and why?

I only have one full semester under my belt, but I’ll go with Introduction to the Politics of Race. It fulfilled a Gen Ed requirement, and it was unrelated to my major, but it’s a class I think everyone should take. I learned a lot about race, mass incarceration, and immigration law.

How is college in general different from high school?

You have a lot more “free” time. When I was in high school, I was stuck at school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and after school was time for extracurricular activities or work.

When it comes to college, your classes are more spread out. You might have three on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and only one on Mondays and Wednesdays. You have all this open space on your schedule to do whatever you want, right?

Wrong.

You still have homework (readings, assignments, papers). You still have extracurricular activities. You still have work.

So it’s up to you to make sure you spend your “free” time the right way before you sit back and relax.

Is the food good?

In the dining halls/market places, it’s all-you-can-eat. One day you can eat a salad, and the next you can have a plate full of pizza. Or you can have salad and pizza all at once. It’s really up to you. If you ever want to see the options you’ll have to choose from, take a look at the menus for the three dining halls on campus.

There are a lot of non-dining halls to choose from when it comes to places to eat on campus. My favorites so far are the Street Hawk Food Truck and Union Station. I’ve heard that River Room Cafe and Black’s Gold Grill are good, but I haven’t eaten at either one yet.

I will say this: There are a lot of places to eat on and around campus, but dining hall food can get a little old after a while. Try to switch it up every once in a while.

Do I need a car?

No. At least not as a freshman.

If you want to go home, someone can come pick you up or you can catch a ride with another student. Or you can buy a plane ticket, if necessary.

Bringing a car means having to spend more money, and we’re already spending enough as is. Honestly, Iowa’s campus is close enough to everything you might need and more.

 

How do I get around campus?

A combination of walking and using the Cambus. You can download an app for the bus schedule, and you’ll catch on quickly to which routes you need to use. A lot of people have a moped, but I don’t have a very good history with them.

Getting around campus is not as hard as some people make it seem.

Should I purchase season tickets for football and basketball?

YES. All other athletic events are free for students, but I definitely recommend getting season tickets for football and basketball.

I didn’t have to purchase season tickets for football because of my job, but I would have if I needed to. The environment is insane. Kinnick Stadium is one of the toughest places to play—just ask Michigan and Ohio State. You definitely want to be a part of that, even if you’re not a huge football fan.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

 

Life at Iowa: January 2018

I’m going to be trying something new this semester. I will be using an app called 1 Second Everyday, which allows me to take a one-second clip each day, to share my everyday life as a student at the University of Iowa. At the beginning of each month, I will mash together all of the clips from the previous month and give a short-ish recap.

I wanted to do this last semester as well, but I was adjusting to life as a college student and it just didn’t work out.

So, without further ado…

January 2018 was all about getting back into the groove of classes and extracurricular activities. I ordered my textbooks for the semester, walked to class in the snow, and started waking up early enough to eat breakfast at Hillcrest Market Place almost every day.

I experienced what it’s like to be crammed on the Cambus with no room to move at all because no one wants to walk in the cold (and we’re probably feeling a little lazy after a long day of classes).

I started volunteering at Iowa athletic events for the Fans First Practicum. The hours are long, and constantly smiling at strangers and answering their questions can be tiring at times, but it’s worth it in more ways than one. Thankfully, I did still manage to catch two men’s basketball games as a regular fan.

After two and a half weeks of classes, I’m looking forward to the many weeks ahead.

Next month: Sport and Recreation Management field trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thank you for reading and watching! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

A Semester of Trial and Error

They say you learn a lot about yourself during college, and I definitely learned a lot about myself (and life) through trial and error during my first semester at the University of Iowa. I was away from home for the first time, experiencing life on my own, and I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.

So I tried different ways of doing things. Sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I failed. But I learned a lot – that’s what matters.

Before I get into the main part of this post, one thing I learned about myself is that I really, really love lists. To-do lists, TV show lists, book lists, bucket lists, blog post lists, and so on.

So, in list form, here are the most important things I learned during my first semester of college:

Study, study, study

I didn’t expect college to be easy. I knew it was going to be harder than high school.

And I knew I was being ridiculous when I didn’t really study for a few of my midterms, but I thought maybe – just maybe – my scores would be fine despite not studying. But I was wrong. 

I got my act together after that and studied for my finals, and I did well. 

Had I studied for those midterms, I definitely had a good shot at a 4.0 GPA. But I didn’t, so the only thing I can do now is make sure I study smart for all future exams. 

It’s easy to fall behind

I procrastinated. A lot. 

And it’s really easy to fall behind in college. Professors aren’t going to stop and wait for you to catch up. (But you can go to office hours for extra help!)

It was stressful having to rush to write papers and put together presentations at the last minute. I’d like to avoid doing that next semester.

Ask for help if you need it

There’s no shame in needing help, whether it’s academic or mental. 

Go to office hours. Get a tutor. See a therapist.

Do whatever it takes to be successful, but make sure you’re healthy while doing it.

Don’t put yourself down

Perfection doesn’t exist. You can try to be perfect, but you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

Don’t put yourself down if you don’t get an A or a B. Don’t put yourself down if you struggle in an “easy course.” Don’t put yourself down if you have to withdraw from a course for whatever reason. Don’t put yourself down if you decide to change your major.

College is the time to find yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to change your mind. And it’s perfectly normal to do so.

Stop being afraid

Go outside of your comfort zone once in a while. Put yourself out there to truly experience life. 

In the sports industry, making connections and knowing the right people is incredibly important. I have to put myself out there, and that’s not something I’m used to doing.

I missed out on a couple opportunities during first semester because I was too “afraid” to go outside my comfort zone, but I’m aiming to change that during second semester.

Rent textbooks online

Last semester, I rented textbooks through a site called Chegg. It’s a lot cheaper than buying textbooks at list price because you can save up to 90%.

When it’s time to return the books, you can print off a prepaid shipping label and drop the box off at the nearest UPS location. And you can highlight the rental books (just don’t write in them).

I’ll be using Chegg again for textbooks during the spring semester.

Don’t rush into getting an apartment

The day before finals week, my roommate and I decided to find an apartment to live in during sophomore year. That was on Sunday.

On Monday, we met up with another girl and decided it would be the three of us living in the apartment.

On Tuesday, we visited the apartment, and a few hours later we were signing the lease.

We hardly looked around. We just saw a picture, decided we liked it, and were like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” We could’ve found a cheaper place. A way, way cheaper place. Not to mention, the apartment is a 30-minute walk from Kinnick Stadium and the football facility, which means I’ll probably need to invest in a bike to get to practice every day. 

I’m taking it as a learning experience. Next year, I’ll start looking for an apartment (or a house) a lot sooner and I’ll spend a lot of time looking to make sure I’m making a good decision.

Don’t order take-out all the time

During the summer I downloaded an app called Grubhub, which is an food ordering and delivery company. My parents knew it would prove to be a problem, and they weren’t wrong. 

I didn’t spend an insane amount of money, but I did order take-out a lot more often than I should have. My savings started to dwindle to a point where I had to delete the app because I apparently have no self-control

Don’t force yourself to become someone you’re not

When you go to college, you can re-invent yourself. You can be whoever you want to be; you can be whoever you were afraid to be. 

But make sure it’s still you. Make sure you’re still proud of yourself when you look in the mirror. 

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

 

The Truth About Campus Tours

When I visited the University of Iowa in April of 2015 as a junior in high school, I was a little overwhelmed. There was a lot of information being thrown at me, and I was still trying to decide between two schools. However, at the end of the day, I knew the University of Iowa was a place I could call home.

Now that I’m almost done with my first semester here at Iowa, I thought it would be a good time to look back on my own campus tour and talk about what a campus tour can tell you about a school, and what it doesn’t.

A Campus Tour Can Tell You About:

1. The beauty of campus

When I visited campus, I had the option of taking a walking tour or a bus tour; I chose the latter, of course. This was a couple years ago, but I think the bus tour was about 15 to 20 minutes long. The bus drove through the main part of campus all the way to Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena. I remember thinking the campus was huge, but that it looked incredible at the same time. I saw students walking to and from classes, talking and laughing with one another, and enjoying themselves. It looked and felt like a place I could call home.

2. The opportunities you’ll have

There was an Exploring Majors Fair that included “representatives from more than 75 academic programs and student service departments.” It was at this fair that I learned about the Sport and Recreation Management major, which is currently one of my two majors. I talked to the representative about the different classes within the major, the field experience that must be completed, and the career paths others have taken. Afterwards I visited the Adler Journalism Building, spoke to a few professors, and toured The Daily Iowan. It was there that I decided my second major: Journalism and Mass Communication.

I also learned about a handful of student organizations and ways to get involved.

3. What residence and dining halls look like

I had the opportunity to explore Currier Hall and see what one of the dorm rooms looked like, and then we ate at Burge Dining Hall.

I remember thinking the residence hall looked old and the dorm room felt like a prison cell, but that’s exactly what I expected. I knew the room would be small and cramped. However, the two girls who lived in that dorm room did a great job of decorating it so it felt homey.

There were a lot of foods to choose from at Burge Dining Hall, and it made me excited for college. (Now, though, I’m starting to get tired of dining hall food.)

4. What college life is like (through the eyes of others, that is)

Towards the beginning of my visit, there was a Q&A session with a group of current students. They answered our questions and talked about their experiences at the University of Iowa. For the most part, I felt like they were being truthful. My favorite part was when one of the current students said, “The freshman 15 is a lie. It’s actually the freshman 45.”

A Campus Tour Can’t Tell You About:

1. Making the most of your time

During my visit, I learned about countless opportunities to shape myself into the person I want to be. But it’s up to me to make the most of my time and take advantage of those opportunities. So far, I’ve become a student videographer for the football team, I’ve joined KRUI and the Sport and Recreation Management Club, I’ve joined a Hawkeye Service Team, and I applied for the Fans First Practicum (field experience for my Sport and Recreation Management major).

And there’s still so much I want to do.

2. What dorm life is really like

Sometimes it’s good, but sometimes it’s not. It’s a good way to meet people and make friends because there are 30+ other people living just down the hall. It’s important to have a good group of friends in college because you’ll be facing a lot of ups and downs, and you’ll need a support system.

Unfortunately, dorm life has its downsides. People tend to get a little rowdy at three in the morning, which makes it difficult to sleep. The communal bathrooms are disgusting at times, and you might find a cockroach or two. And sometimes you’ll find “interesting” things in the hallways that you wished you’d never have to see.

You just have to keep reminding yourself that it’s only temporary.

3. Making friends

Making friends in college is way different from making friends in high school. In high school, it was easy to make friends, especially since I went to a small school.

But I’m not an outgoing person and I don’t have a lot in common with other people, which makes making friends in college a little complicated at times. Now I have to really push myself outside of my comfort zone in order to make friends.

4. The different types of seasons

If you’re from Iowa or a midwest state, this doesn’t really apply to you because you already know what the weather is like. However, if you’re from a warm location like California or Florida, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Iowa’s weather is bipolar. One day it’s 60 degrees and sunny and the next it’s 30 degrees and snowing. When you visit on one day of the year, you only get a feel of what it’s like being on campus during that specific season.

I visited in April and it was 40 degrees and incredibly windy. Thankfully, I brought a sweatshirt. But it can also get really hot and really cold. It might even rain.

Just make sure you’re prepared.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

15 Ways To (Actually) Relax In College

Between studying for midterms, writing papers, and not getting enough sleep, I have been feeling incredibly stressed lately. For that reason, this post is just as much for me as it is for others.

To me, relaxation is all about clearing the mind in a non-strenuous way. In college, we do a lot of moving around as we have to go to classes, club meetings, and work. When I relax, I prefer not leaving my dorm room at all.

So here are 15 ways to actually relax in college:

1. Take A Nap

Long, short, somewhere in between. Just lie down, close your eyes, and let your exhaustion consume you.

2. Read For Pleasure

When studying topics that interest us, we probably find enjoyment in our textbooks. But put those textbooks down. Remove yourself from your studies and grab a book that takes your mind off school.

I’m currently reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

3. Listen To Music

It doesn’t matter what kind. We all have different tastes when it comes to music, so pick songs or artists you enjoy. If you’re looking for pre-made playlists full of relaxing music, Spotify is the place to go.

4. Meditate

This is something I have never done, but have always wanted to try. There are countless ways to meditate, and the benefits of it are countless too. From reducing stress and increasing happiness to slowing aging and improving immunity, meditating helps encourage a healthy lifestyle.

5. De-Clutter Your Space

One big cause of stress for me is when my personal space is a mess, whether it’s my desk, my closet, or the files on my laptop. Take some time to organize and clean. When it’s time to get to work again, you will be more likely to get stuff done since you don’t feel overwhelmed by a mess.

6. Write Down Your Thoughts

Even if you aren’t a “good” writer, letting all of your frustrations out with pen and paper is a great stress reliever. Rant about classes or a person you encountered. Talk about something you’re passionate about. Write a cliche short story. Write a memoir of your life. The possibilities are endless.

7. Draw Or Color

I have no artistic ability at all. I avoided art classes in high school because I knew my grade would suffer. However, coloring is something I have always enjoyed. And it also happens to be a great way to relieve stress. Print pictures from online, buy a coloring book, or just grab a blank sheet of paper — whatever works best for you.

8. Watch A Funny Movie

My favorite movie genres are action, drama, and sport. But when I feel like I need to laugh, I understandably turn to comedy movies. Personally, I enjoy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which I guess is technically considered a mix of sport and action, but it never fails to make me laugh.

9. Binge-Watch Netflix

Or Hulu. Or YouTube.

10. Make Hot Chocolate

It’s starting to get cold out, so naturally I bought hot chocolate this past weekend. It tastes good and its warmth is well-suited for any cold month. There’s nothing I’d rather do than curl up in a blanket, turn on the TV (preferably to a football game), and drink a cup of hot chocolate.

11. Talk To A Friend

Rant. Complain. Let it all out. If writing isn’t your thing, maybe talking is.

12. Think Positive

Did poor on a test? Study more efficiently next time. Didn’t do well during an interview? Figure out what you need to work on and improve. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t let a bad test, grade, or social interaction get you down.

13. Slow Down

Don’t try to get involved in a million things just for the sake of getting involved. It’s better to know a lot about a little than a little about a lot.

14. Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes. We can’t (always) be perfect. And there’s nothing wrong with that. What really matters is that you keep trying.

15. Just Breathe

We get so caught up in trying to balance classes, clubs, and work, that sometimes we forget to just breathe. Not literally (at least I hope not), but figuratively. We push ourselves so hard, pack our schedules full, and leave little time for fun.

So stop what you’re doing, take a few deep breaths, and remind yourself why you’re here.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

The Unsung Heroes of College Football

It takes a village to run a college football program.

Players. Coaches. Graduate Assistants. Directors. The list goes on.

But buried deep in the back pages of the weekly program, you’ll find the groups that, although essential to the success of the team, are often forgotten by college football fans around the country.

The managers, the sports medicine staff, the office staff, the equipment staff, and, last but certainly not least, the video staff.

“The video guys are the unsung heroes of our sport,” said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. “They are our eyes in the sky all week long. And they are as much a part of this football team as the people that the TV audience will see on the sideline.”

Video staff team photo taken inside Kinnick Stadium.

Here at Iowa, we’re a small group of ten students and an intern with Bob Rahfeldt, the Video Director, and Chris Ruth, the Assistant Video Director, to teach and guide us.

Getting the job

Rewind seven months back to March 8th. It was late in the day and I was finishing up some homework for one of my classes when my phone vibrated, letting me know I had a Twitter notification. My high school’s head football coach, Matt Miers, had shared a tweet with me from an account called Hawkeye FB Video.

They were looking to fill open student videographer positions, and Coach Miers had a feeling I would be interested. I had filmed football games for my high school’s team my junior and senior years of high school.

I ended up sending him a direct message, letting him know I was very interested. His response was quick. He told me to work on my cover letter and resume, and that he would look over them before I sent them in. He also let me know that he would write a recommendation for me, as he was a manager for Iowa football at the same time Bob Rahfeldt (the current Video Director) was a student on the video staff.

“A lot of jobs are gained by who you know,” he told me. That’s something I’ve been told a lot the past several months.

Everything after that happened fast. Or, at least, it felt that way.

A couple weeks after sending in my materials, I was setting up an interview. And a week after that, I was on my way to the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City.

I was more nervous than I had ever been before. All I could think about was the fact that this was the start of my future, whether I got the job or not. In a few short months, I’d be heading off to college.

My parents were really supportive, and Coach Miers had given me a lot of advice for the interview: “Talk about your passion for football, how much you enjoyed videotaping our games, being involved in football, etc. Talk about your commitment, how responsible you are. Be enthusiastic and excited.”

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I could do it — put a smile on my face and essentially sell myself — because I’m not a talkative person and it was my first real job interview. I usually have to warm up to a person before I put myself out there like that.

But as I entered the football facility, surrounded by trophies and the history of Iowa’s football team, I realized that there was one specific thing that always got me talking no matter how well I knew a person.

Football.

And that’s why I was there.

After that, my smile came easy. And so did talking about myself and my passion for football and working in the sports industry. When I finished the interview and left the video office, I couldn’t remember why I was so nervous in the first place.

Five days later, I accepted a volunteer position with the video staff, which required me to report for fall football camp around August 1st (I’d stay in the team hotel until moving into my dorm), work a couple practices a week during the season, and work all home games. And then I’d have the chance to move into a paid position next spring.

Filming practices

Now that the season has started, video students are scheduled to arrive around an hour before practice starts. Because of my class schedule, I am only able to attend practices on Tuesdays and some Fridays. During fall camp, however, I went to every practice.

Shooting practice from the perch on a foggy Tuesday morning.

As soon as all of the video students that are scheduled to work arrive, we gather the items we need (a camera, a back-up battery in case we lose power at our locations, a tripod, a walkie-talkie, and SD cards) and head out to the practice fields.

Every practice we receive an updated practice rundown sheet (also used by the coaches and players) that tells us the layout of practice and where we’re filming from.

We utilize four scissor lifts (three on the offensive field and one on the defensive field), a ground camera, a pole camera, and a perch located inside the indoor practice facility. The person filming from the perch films on the defensive field, and that’s usually where I am every Tuesday morning.

Scissor lifts give us the ability to change heights. The higher up we are, the better the coaches can see the patterns of a play. The lower we are, and the coaches can see the players’ point of view. Unfortunately, as we go higher, the lift becomes less stable and wind can be a problem. In 2010, Declan Sullivan, a football video student at Notre Dame, died when his scissor lift “collapsed in winds exceeding 50 mph.” He was only 20 years old.

We have strict rules here. If the winds exceed 20 mph, we come down. As much as we all love football, it’s not worth putting our lives on the line.

“Drop bag” used during practices.

Practice is split up in periods, such as ‘punt’ and ‘scouts.’ After certain periods, we remove the SD card from the camera, put a new SD card in, and place the old one in the “drop bag.” Usually there’s a Powerade bottle or water bottle in the bag that weighs it down so it drops easier. Once the SD card case is in the “drop bag,” we lower it to ground level so the runner can grab it and take it up to the video office where the film is imported by the Video Director, Bob Rahfeldt, and the intern, Clint Tucker. It’s an efficient system that allows coaches to view the film as soon as practice ends.

While I feel as though I have done a good job at practices so far, I’ve definitely made my fair share of mistakes since I arrived at fall camp almost two months ago. Towards the beginning of camp, I didn’t set my tripod up high enough and the bars on the scissor lift prevented the camera from pointing down all the way, and I wasn’t able to get everything in the frame. More recently, my SD card case fell out of the “drop bag” on the way down.

The zipper on the bag was broken, so I couldn’t zip it up, and the Powerade bottle rolled out of the bag and the SD card case followed it. I was in a rush to get back to the camera to film, so I must have picked the bag up the wrong way. I felt my heart drop when it happened. Thankfully, the runner found it on the stairs.

Every time I have made a mistake, I’ve learned from it and haven’t let the same mistake happen again.

Working during games

Games are a lot different than practices. For example, we have to show up four hours prior to kickoff. That means if Iowa is playing an 11 o’clock game, we have to be at the football facility at seven o’clock in the morning dressed in our game day attire. But it’s not bad when you have a game to look forward to.

View from the south end zone.

Once everyone arrives, we load up all the equipment on the golf cart and head over to Kinnick Stadium to set up. We only take three cameras because we only film at three locations during games (sideline in the press box, north end zone, and south end zone).

When everything is set up, we head back to the football facility and eat a pre-game meal, which, I believe, is usually provided by Hy-Vee.

View from the sideline press box.

After we’re all done eating, we watch the weekly hit film made for each game, which is always really good. However, one video that never fails to give me chills is the “This Is Iowa” video, made by the Assistant Video Director, Chris Ruth, who is incredibly good at his job.

Around two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, we go to the south end of Kinnick Stadium and wait for the team buses to arrive for the Hawk Walk. Once they pull up, we grab the laptops from below one of the buses, enter Kinnick Stadium with the players and coaches, and then walk right back out to the football facility.

Sideline view at halftime of the Penn State game.

Once the computers are set up back in the video office, we’re free to do whatever for about an hour. Usually around an hour and 15 minutes before the game starts, we all meet back up on the field at Kinnick Stadium and hang out until kickoff.

We watch the players warm up, we watch videos as they’re played on the video board (including the hit film and This Is Iowa video), we watch the players swarm the field, and we listen as the band plays the Star-Spangled Banner.

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital during the Penn State game.

My favorite part of every home game, however, is after the first quarter when we all stop what we’re doing and wave at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. It’s one thing to watch it happening, and it’s another to actually be there, seeing the children holding up signs and waving back. The best new tradition in college sports, by far.

After each quarter, we have one runner go to the south end zone and one runner go to the north end zone. Each runner’s job is to get the SD card from their assigned end zone and take it up to the press box to be imported. Since we have so many people on the video staff, we have four assigned runners at home games and we switch off each half. When we’re not running cards or filming, we get to stand on the sideline and enjoy the game.

Spirit game against Penn State.

It gets really loud inside Kinnick Stadium, especially on third down. The fans go crazy and try to disrupt the opponent’s offense. Like I said before, it takes a village. And the fans are part of this village, too.

How to get involved

I’m just a freshman. I don’t have a ton of experience getting involved in the sports industry yet, so I don’t have a lot to say on this topic.

But what I can say is that you can’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Even when you’re nervous or scared.

Outside Kinnick Stadium.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hesitate when applying for the student videographer job with the football team. It was new and unfamiliar, and there was already a lot of change going on in my life. Looking back now, I’m glad I pushed past the hesitation because I know I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.

Coach Miers words have really stuck with me. At the end of the day, it’s not always what you know, but who you know.

I’ve also joined KRUI Sports and the Sport and Recreation Management Club, where I hold the Sports Information Chair position. Through these three experiences, I have the opportunity to network and break into the sports industry.

But this is only just the beginning for me. There are still so many opportunities ahead, and I plan on taking advantage of every single one of them.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post about moving from a small town to a big campus, and what I thought college would be like vs. how it actually is (thus far).

If you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media! Go Hawks!

Instagram · Snapchat · Twitter
@kam_smithy

Finding a Routine

I’ve come to the conclusion that going home three weekends in a row was a very, very bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing my family and pretending as though I had never left for college. It was fun being able to eat food I didn’t pay for and pick on my siblings. It was fun seeing my high school’s football team (which I used to be a manager for) beat one of its biggest rivals for the first time in years. It was fun watching college football on Saturdays with my parents like we always had. It was fun going to a Labor Day weekend cookout with my stepdad’s side of the family and seeing my aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. It was fun watching my brother play his first football game and actually win. It was fun giving real hugs instead of virtual ones.

It was all fun.

But, like I said, I was just pretending.

Now as my first weekend of staying in Hillcrest since classes started approaches, I’m finally starting to realize how different it’s going to be from here on. I won’t have the opportunity to go home again for a few weeks because Iowa plays at home this weekend against North Texas and next weekend against Penn State.

But that’s okay for a few reasons:
1) I love my job. Filming Hawkeye football is a thrill and, even though I haven’t been able to film an actual game yet, standing on the sideline and running cards is just as exciting (even when taking into consideration the fact that I’m really out of shape).
2) I need to be more independent. I’m an adult now, right? Time to start acting like it.
3) I need to develop a routine.

I’m a person who loves routines. I love planning everything down to the hour, and sometimes even the minute. But since I’ve gone home every weekend, I haven’t developed a very solid routine yet. I haven’t figured out a sleep schedule, I haven’t figured out when the best time to do my laundry is, and I haven’t come up with a study plan. I have a giant to-do list full of about 20 things I need to get done.

Pay my U-bill. Pay interest on my student loans. Apply for another job. Start researching for a presentation.

And it’s driving me crazy that I don’t have it all planned out. Maybe my college routine can be to not have much of a routine at all and just take everything day-by-day.

But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how these next few weeks go and take it from there.

 

See you next time, Hawks!

 

And so it begins…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after one week of classes, it’s that procrastination is still my number one enemy. For example, I told myself I would submit my first blog post on Friday, the 25th.

And what day is it now? Monday, the 28th. And I’m rushing to finish writing it right before my second class starts.

While the first week of college was lacking in homework (yay for syllabus week), it was still incredibly hectic and productivity was a necessity. I had a million and one things I wanted, and needed, to do, but failed to even start. This was also a problem for me in high school, but the only difference is that I have a lot more going on now than I did back then.

On Monday, I had my first class (Contemporary Issues in Sports) at 9:30 am, and I didn’t have my second class (Inequality in American Sport) until 2:30 pm. This gap between classes provided me with the opportunity to at least do something productive, so I opted for doing my laundry in the residence hall for the first time. Getting my clothes in the washer was easy enough, but of course, with my luck, it all went downhill from there. When it came time to dry my clothes, I somehow managed to shove all of them into the bottom dryer, but ended up pressing the start button for the top dryer. I’m still not sure how I managed to make that mistake, but I ended up having to pay again. To top it off, when I came back to get my clothes after they finished drying, they were all still damp. For some crazy reason, I thought it was a good idea to put seven towels and a week’s worth of clothes in all at once.

Tuesday was when things started to get more hectic. While I didn’t have class until 12:30 pm, I had to be at football practice at seven in the morning. Being a videographer for the football team is fun, but I am in no way a morning person. After going to both of my Tuesday classes (Media History and Culture and Introduction to the Politics of Race) that afternoon, I hung out in my dorm room for a while. At five pm, we had our mandatory floor meeting where we introduced ourselves and talked about all of the things we had already gone over at orientation. At 9:15 pm, I had a KRUI sports department meeting where we discussed shows and show times. And at around 12 pm, I finally went to bed.

Wednesday was my busiest day in terms of classes. At 9:30 am, I had Contemporary Issues in Sports and right after that, at 10:30 am, I had the discussion for that class. And then, just like on Monday, I didn’t have my next (and last) class until 2:30 pm. I think I did a pretty good job at spacing out my classes and limiting the amount I have in one day in order to ease myself into college. On Wednesday night, I had an informational meeting for the Sport and Rec Management program. We found out about the different networking opportunities, met a lot of the staff, and had the chance to win a skip-the-line pass for the Chicago field trip (spoiler: I didn’t win). The trip would have consisted of a bus ride to Chicago to network and go to the Cubs vs. Braves game, but sadly I had prior commitments that prevented me from registering.

On Thursday, I only had two classes (Media History and Culture and Introduction to the Politics of Race). At 3:30 pm, I was supposed to have a meeting with my advisor at the Pomerantz Career Center, so I headed over there after my last class. When I got there, I found out that they had to cancel all of the meetings with my advisor because he hadn’t been there all week. They said they sent me an e-mail, but I never got it. Nevertheless, I headed back to my dorm room and relaxed for a while. At around five pm, I headed over to the Old Cap Mall for a Pizza Party with some of the other student bloggers. It was really cool to meet everyone and I can’t wait for the next one! That night, I had to go to bed early because I needed to be at the football facility for practice at six in the morning. Just as I was falling asleep, the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building, which was just my luck.

On Friday morning, I walked to the football facility for practice. I got out of there around nine am, and then I had my discussion class for Inequality in American Sport at 10:30 am. After that, I had my discussion class for Media History and Culture at 1:30 pm. Once I was finished with classes, I went back to my dorm and started packing my bag.

Yes, I was already making a trip home. While I had yet to feel really homesick, I did miss my parents and siblings, and couldn’t wait to see them again.

My first week of college was full of a lot of changes, new experiences, and a few bumps in the road. I might have seen a cockroach in the girls’ bathroom once or twice (or maybe three times) and I might have gotten lost in Van Allen, but I wasn’t going to let any of that ruin my first week.

I would apologize for the super long, tell-instead-of-show post (believe me, they will not all be like this), but I think it “fits the bill” because it was definitely a super long week.

But I do have a feeling the weeks are only going to get longer.

 

See you next time, Hawks!