Remember that disastrous interview I had in Washington, D.C.? I must have recovered somewhat nicely and done well in the other two interviews because I got the job.
I'm happy to announce that as of 4:51 p.m. today I am officially an employee of AOL as the local editor of Patch Bel Air. While I will not be working with Cabbage Patch Kids, I will be running the Web site BelAir.Patch.com, which will launch in September. The site will cover all the goings-on in Bel Air - town hall meetings, schools, sports from multiple high schools and a community college, A&E in the area, etc.
At the outset of my job search I was seeking an all-sports post and was willing to take $20,000 without benefits. But when my friend and fellow class of 2009 graduate Michael Sorrentino (Patchogue.Patch.com) informed me of this opportunity with AOL I threw my hat in the ring. The more the process progressed the more excited I became despite my debacle in the district.
I'll have control over my own news Web site that covers sports as well as a number of other things. I've done plenty of news reporting in the past so going outside of athletics does not concern me. Additionally, I'll get a chance to do some multimedia photography and video work that has been the weak part of my journalistic arsenal.
The job is essentially a 24/7 on-call type - in case there's a fire, car accident, perfect game, etc. - but I look at that as an exciting challenge, on top of the fact that the position is well-compensated, especially for my first full-time job. Not only does the salary dwarf what I would have had to settle for at an entry level sports job, but I'll get benefits as well as some new toys. Namely a MacBook and my first Blackberry (send me your BBMs!)
Bel Air, of course, is 25 minutes from my hometown of Pylesville, Md., which is smaller than Emmitsburg to give you Mount people some perspective. (Seriously, my hometown is smaller than Emmitsburg. No traffic lights.) So there are the obvious benefits of home-cooking opportunities and free laundry, which is why I selected an apartment without a washer/dryer for $55 less. Plus there is a laundry room next door and I'm going to be on the first floor - how clutch is that? And the kitchen counter is in the form of a bar, which looks into the main room where I'll be playing SportsCenter while I make my world famous egg sandwiches in the mornings. Basically I love where I'll be living in downtown Bel Air. (If you're wondering why I don't just live at home I have two good reasons: 1. You have to live in the town in which you're working so that you can cover something on short notice e.g. a car accident or fire. 2. My dad never turns the air conditioning low enough at night and I always wake up on the verge of a sweat outbreak at 2 a.m.)
So what will this mean for my outside writing? For starters I'll no longer be able to freelance for ESPNRise, which is disappointing, but justified. I have a few more stories in the works that I'll finish before I start with Patch, but my Disney days were short-lived (for now.) As for "Mount U", I plan to keep writing as long as time permits. While I cannot use AOL-issued equipment for non-AOL work, and I also can't do anything that takes time away from my AOL work, I'll still have this laptop along with my Mount connections. That being said, my new (paying) job is obviously the top priority. But I still hope to attend some basketball games (and perhaps some other sports as well, gotta love your Mount tennis) or at least watch them online when I'm not covering a Board of Education meeting.
I should also mention that I'll be granted a freelance budget to hire contributers for their work. Not sure how this will work yet, but after my two years as managing editor of the Mountain Echo I'm not concerned. My training, and first official day, is next Monday, June 28. I will travel to either Dulles, Va., New York City or Chicago, though I do not know which one yet (and I don't get to choose.)
Although I am a Harford County native, feel free to throw me any Bel Air connects or advice and I'll be sure to listen. Hopefully I can stay strong with this blog while taking a big step forward with my career. As always, thanks for the support.