Brenda Duran.

Adapting is The Key to Success

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

I can still remember the day I turned my tassel on graduation day. I was beaming with pride when I thought about how I was setting out to be the best print reporter in the news business as I walked away with my newly minted print journalism degree in hand.

I had spent four years of intense study, learning what it meant to be a good journalist and immersed myself in internships that I was convinced would pave the path for me post-graduation.

Little did I know that outside of the university walls, the world of media was undergoing the kind of overhaul that would change my professional trajectory and those of others—forever. Blindsided by the Internet revolution, newsrooms dynamics changed quickly and the core of the print journalism business model was shaken up.

Suddenly the fate of my print journalism career felt extremely vulnerable.

In the first few years out of college my first journalism job gave me a front row seat to the unraveling of the rapidly changing media landscape.

It wasn’t enough anymore to write and file a story and call it a day. Now there was a demand for the web version of the story, photos and video and yes, eventually, social media. My beat now encompassed several other beats and the demand for information grew as several jobs inside my newsroom dwindled and circulation print numbers dipped.

The changes were sudden and everyone felt the jolt. For some it became crippling fear, for others it became an opportunity.

I quickly learned I had a choice. Eventually, when I too became a casualty of the struggling news business in the recession, I made it a point to adapt to the new world of communication in order to thrive.

Video needed? Check. Web story? Check. Graphic arts? Check.

In the midst of layoffs and bleak reports about my new profession, it dawned on me that the core skills of the craft I loved were also skills that would carry me through and help me shine in any job. There was no need for fear, only new opportunities.

Storytelling, research, data deciphering and strong writing are the foundations that I had built my career on, and now more than ever they were skills that were in high demand in every sector. The career door was not closing; it was opening to new possibilities.

When I decided to break out of the journalism box I only retired my title on paper. The skills I gained would be with me forever. Even though I didn’t spend my entire career in newspapers, I was grateful for the foundation it gave me to build an even broader career in communications and a skill set that would continuously set me apart.

Today, my job managing media and communications for the largest jurisdiction in the country requires me to use all of the tools that USC equipped me with. Being part of the first class in 2005 to embrace convergence media set me up for success in ways I could have not imagined. I am still a storyteller, but I am now also an evolving communicator with a thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm for the new technologically savvy world we live in.

In this fast-paced world, I keep myself updated by attending conferences on personal development, I network with those who are on similar paths and I am an avid reader of trends. I am hitting the refresh button all the time. The new world of communications will continue to demand this of you.

By adding new tools to your toolbox you will enhance what you bring to the table when times are unpredictable. Staying two steps ahead, means you will always be prepared.

Now, I think back to that graduation day as a time when I was not only moving my tassel from right to left, but I was also symbolically moving from one chapter to the next and opening myself up to whatever the future had in store for me. All I had to do was embrace the unknown and adapt. 

A graduate of USC’s Annenberg School, Brenda Duran currently manages media and communications for the office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. She is an award-winning writer who has been published in multiple publications and digital platforms such as The North County Times in San Diego, The El Paso Times, The Denver Post, Us Weekly, PEOPLE, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Long Beach Magazine.