How Matt Crossman got a non-entry level job due to CM Life
In a series of interviews, we asked our Alumni about their experiences at CM Life. Read on to see how Matt Crossman shares his "Life Story."
In celebration of CM Life's upcoming 100 Year Anniversary, we asked alumnus Matt Crossman to reflect on his time at CM Life and how it helped his get prepared for the job he has today.
Q: What year did you begin working at CM Life?
A: The fall of 1992.
Q: How long were you here?
A: Two school years
Q: What position did you work in?
A: Reporter, assistant news editor and news editor
Q: What were some of the highlights or favorite memories while working for CM Life?
A: Most of them involve either Jim Wojcik or gatherings at The Bird after closing the paper.
Like probably every one in that era, I was terrified of Woj at first. But once I got to know him, he became the single most important person of my career. I’ve told this story 1,000 times, let’s make it 1,001 …
I was a senior, a month or so from graduation, and still jobless. Woj called me into his office at CM Life in Anspach Hall and told me there was a job opening at The Daily Telegram in Adrian, Michigan, and that it was sure to be the best opening available during my search.
It was so long ago (1994) that I sent my resume and clips via snail mail, with hard copy, stamps, and everything. I waited a few days, and then called the editor of The Daily Telegram, a man named Roger Hart, who unbeknownst to me at the time, also was a CM Life alum. Roger, who now has been my friend for almost 25 years, told me I was not even a candidate for the job because he was not considering entry-level applicants. Cocky punk that I was, I stormed into Woj’s office and let him have it.
“Why did you get me all excited for that job? It’s not even entry level!”
He set down his pipe, took a swig of Tab (at least in my idyllic memory, that’s what he did) and said, “Who told you that?”
“You just let me make a phone call.”
A few days later, I had an interview with Roger, and a few days after that, I had the job.
Q: How did your experience at CM Life influence your career?
A: When I started my career a few days after graduating, the leap to the real world, as far as work goes, really wasn’t that big of a deal. I had learned how to do the job at CM Life. I was nervous, of course, because I wanted to succeed. But I felt completely prepared to ask questions, write down answers, and turn that into a story. On my first full day at work, there was a house fire in my coverage area. I had never written a house fire story before, and I can remember being a little nervous as I started working on it. But, I reassured myself my remembering I had written a zillion other stories at CM Life, so I could write this one, too.
Q: Do you still keep up with CM Life regularly?
A: I read cm-life.com every now and then. Dave Clark and I worked at Life together a million years ago, and again in a professional setting a few years after that. Plus, I’m curious about what’s going on at Central/in Mount Pleasant, how the “kids” cover it, etc.
Q: Where do you work now?
A: I am a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. I write essays, profiles and travel and adventure feature stories for a variety of publications.
Q: What advice would you give to current CM Lifers?
A: However much you drink, cut it at least in half. This only applies if you plan a career in journalism: Don’t tell your parents or professors I said this, but if you worry about your grades, stop. Do well for the sake of doing well. Make sure you earn enough credits to graduate. If you want to go to graduate school, get good enough grades to keep going. But no editor will ever care, know or ask if you got good grades. They will care if you can do the work. You will learn that at CM Life more than you will learn it in class. Start your career at as small a paper as you can. You will want to do the opposite. But you will learn more, do more, and grow more if you do start small. Granted, how much money you make and where you will live will be issues. But it’s much better to start out small and move up. Find a writer(s) you admire and copy him /her/them. Think long and hard and deeply about what you want out of life. If you want “things”—nice car, nice house, nice TV, retirement savings, etc.—this probably isn’t the profession for you.
The 100 Year Anniversary celebration will be at Soaring Eagle Casino and Conference Center on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. They must be purchased by Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. in order to attend.