To celebrate GreenHawks Media’s 10th anniversary in 2020, the site will feature profiles of alumni staff writers that contributed to the publication’s content and mission during their time at Miami University. Our April spotlight is Amy Barczy, one of the founders of GreenHawks Media.
By: Mack Lotz
As if quarantine and online classes aren’t stressful enough already, we are constantly having to think about our futures as college students. Which classes should I take? What should I major in? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? For most of us, these are all questions that still need answers. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we had someone who had been in our shoes to open our eyes to future opportunities?
Well we’re in luck, because GreenHawks Media co-founder and Miami alum Amy Barczy has some insight to share. When Amy reflects on her Miami experience, she says that it gave her so many new opportunities. She was able to be on the Miami equestrian team all four years, as well as do two different internships at newspapers in Hamilton and Middletown in addition to her work with GreenHawks. These internships provided her with real world experience that she would not have otherwise had.
Barczy was given the opportunity to write about a campaign rally for a state representative and told me that “It was really eye-opening to be sitting there in the same row as real journalists. I would be trying to write everything down while they would just write down a quote and move on. It really showed me how the business works.” She recommends that everyone tries to gain real world work experience through internships or volunteer work before graduating.
When commenting on GreenHawks today, Amy had one thing to say: “I’m so glad it’s still up and running!” GreenHawks Media was co-founded by Amy, and the publication was part of her senior thesis project. When Amy and her co-founders first started out in 2009, GreenHawks was a team of four student writers that just wanted to write about the environment. By the time she graduated in 2010, it had grown to 12 student writers. Now, a decade later, GreenHawks has grown to support twice as many student writers, and our publication staff even includes photographers. Amy said creating GreenHawks from scratch was extremely beneficial to her journalism major. Nothing like this had ever been done at Miami, so it was a big project to tackle for this small group of students. They had to design the web logo, create the concept and come up with writing assignments.
Even with all of those challenges, the team managed to launch GreenHawks and carry it with them in the future. When I asked Amy how starting GreenHawks helped her future journalism career, she said it was a key factor in landing jobs right out of college. Having first hand media experience and managing a team showed employers that she had something else to offer: it gave her the extra oomph she needed to land the role. She credits her experience and opportunities at Miami to landing her first job shortly after graduation at a newsroom in Michigan.
“Writing in college and writing professionally are very different,” Amy told me.
In college, you are able to write about your passions and whatever you chose. You can pick your topics and run with them, so to speak. In a professional newsroom setting, you need to write about what fits the newsroom needs. There aren’t always stories that you want to write about, but it’s necessary to write about them. Amy advises future GreenHawks writers to write about whatever we want to now because we won’t get this same opportunity for a long time.
After landing her Michigan newsroom job and staying with it for nine years, Amy moved on to work for Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company. There, she is a brand journalist, which involves writing corporate blog posts about health issues and policy topics. Occasionally, Barczy will write op-eds for newspapers about the company.
Being in the health department at this time has been a challenge. Amy is constantly working to inform the public of what is happening with COVID-19, which she has been working on since January. She is able to work from home, which she likes, although she feels lucky because a lot of her coworkers don’t have this luxury. She is also glad that her company has been adapting well, helping people when they can and covering a lot of tests and procedures for coronavirus. She is happy to be making a difference, and it’s nice to be part of the solution.
Amy’s advice is broad but important: “Travel now, not later. Make your impractical decisions, your dumb ideas, now while you still can!” She also tells me that when looking for a first job, be willing to take the ground floor job. Employers value someone who is open, willing to say yes and bring new ideas to the table. Being flexible and having a broad skill set are also very important when you’re just starting out in a job.
Finally, Barczy says that you have to accept change as a reality. This rings true for us more than ever right now. Hopefully Amy’s words of wisdom can help us as we go out into the world and forge our own paths.
Cover photo courtesy of Amy Barczy