At Olentangy Liberty High School, I am part of the mentorship program that allows students to gain hands-on experience in a professional field.
In this course, students may choose up to three 40-hour placements in which they spend five hours a week at a workplace.
I have many interests in future careers -- law, journalism, psychology and meteorology.
My first placement was with the Law Office of David A. Ison, and my next one will be with the Department of Veterans Affairs to learn about the field of psychology, including forensic psychology and neuropsychology.
My most recent placement was at ThisWeek Community News to explore the field of journalism.
At ThisWeek, I mentored with managing editor Lee Cochran, assignment editor Neil Thompson, chief photographer Shane Flanigan, photographer Lorrie Cecil and reporter Andrew King. With each of my mentors, I learned different aspects of journalism.
For two years, I was an editor for The Cannon, our school's newsmagazine, and I wrote and edited stories in addition to taking pictures.
However, I still learned a lot throughout the experience with ThisWeek. It has given me insight into the real world of journalism and how much work goes into publishing each newspaper.
With Lee, I observed how he manages the paper by placing final edits on stories, speaking with community members and working with the reporters, editors and photographers to make sure a polished publication is released each week. The professional communications skills I learned from him will carry with me to any career.
In my time with Neil, I learned many new skills about journalistic writing. I learned the editing process that is used at ThisWeek, how to convert information into news-worthy articles and what research and formatting go into writing in-depth stories. Continually reading and editing stories, as well as receiving feedback from Neil, have helped me improve my writing and editing skills tremendously.
With Shane and Lorrie, I learned what factors go into being a good photojournalist. I learned how to use external lighting to create different photo effects and the difference between artistic and journalistic photography.
With their help, I had two photos published in the paper. I am very grateful to be able to add published photos to my portfolio.
The first photo published was of Dublin Coffman High School's Paige Warren, who recently signed to play basketball at the University of Southern California.
The second photo was taken when I went with Andrew to interview a Libyan named Ismael Owen, who explained the effect of President Donald Trump's refugee travel ban on his life. That interview alone was an incredible experience.
My experience at ThisWeek has taught me so many valuable skills, both in journalism and professional communications.
Although I have not decided my future career path, journalism remains a top contender. I am grateful for my experience at ThisWeek and all that I have learned.
Alexis Berry is a senior at Olentangy Liberty.