One year ago today, I started my first real job at Patch.
I had never been to Wheaton and knew nothing about it. So I googled it. I printed out more than 40 pages of info from the Wheaton, IL Wikipedia page to try and learn something about my future home and workplace.
I also wasn't sure what this Wheaton Patch site was going to be. On June 28, 2010, it was completely blank, and only 67 Patch sites existed on the east and west coasts. Now, it's one of nearly 900 daily news websites in the nation, with 1702 articles in its queue (that's an average of six articles per day in the nine months it's been a live website).
One year ago today, my head was swarming with questions. "How do you work an online news site? What would that even look like? How will I tell people about it? How will I find the news? Where is Wheaton?"
Sure, I had a journalism degree, and could find news anywhere I went on the DePaul campus—But Wheaton? Everyday? Where do you even start?
I figured the mayor could be a good start. So I googled him, and was surprised to find his number online. I took 20 minutes to prep myself before dialing it after calling a coworker, my parents and my grandparents to ask them how you address the mayor. Is it Mr. Mayor? Your Honor? Mayor Gresk? Mr. Gresk? (I googled that too.)
"What if I get it wrong? What do I say ? He'll never talk to me again," I thought as I wrote out what I'd say.
Of course, Mayor Mike Gresk called me back within 24 hours and left me his cell number. We met at Egg Harbor Cafe, where he kindly laughed when I sat down and blurted out, "I'm totally nervous about this."
Similar experiences followed that morning—where I'd walk in to someone's office with the, "Hi, I'm here! Or, er, I will be here in three months! Go Patch!" routine.
I'll remember it as the "I don't know anything" summer.
I wanted to learn, though—that may be the only thing that hasn't changed in the past year.
All summer, I explained this nonexistent website coupled with my nonexistent life experience. "Is this a blog? Is this your job? Do you get paid? How are you going to do this?," people rightfully asked.
I knew I had no street cred whatsoever. When the site finally launched in September, I knew it'd be an uphill climb to figuring out the news and how to find it.
Nine months later, I know I'll always be learning. Thank you, Google, and everyone in Wheaton who has answered my questions no matter how nosy, inane or obvious they were.
Wheaton's a huge place with a lot of history, a lot of people and a lot of heart. I can't help but be glad that my first year is out of the way, because I know Patch is not the new unknown anymore, and that it's the perfect time to take it from being "the new site" to being "the best site."