Student Spotlight: Bianca Smith ('17)Published on Jan 26, 2016
By Jaclyn Jermyn (’16)
Journalism major Bianca Smith (’17) is doing her part to keep active in the changing media landscape and credits Columbia with helping her develop her creative strengths.
While her choice to go to Columbia was originally one of convenience, Smith believes she ended up right where she was supposed to be.
“I grew up in the suburbs and I’m the first child so I kind of wanted to stay close to my family,” says Smith. “With that being said, I feel like [Columbia] was the only school that I would have a truly hands-on experience and have opportunities right out of the gate, if I worked hard enough of course.”
That hands-on experience changed her entire view of journalism.
“[Freshman year] I came in as a broadcast journalism student and while I was doing those introductory courses I came to find that I really enjoyed writing,” says Smith, who is now in the magazine writing and editing program.
From then on, she tried to take the most out of every class by pushing herself to always try to learn something new about her craft.
In 2014, Smith had the opportunity to cover Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Budget Address as a part of Curtis Lawrence’s Reporting and Writing Two class.
“Even though it felt like it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, going to City Hall and listening to the dialogues that impact the city and then having to report on them was definitely rewarding,” says Smith. “I don’t think that that’s something that you could get many other places as a student.”
This past semester, she really buckled down and started learning the specific ins and outs of the magazine industry thanks to her position as the Co-Managing Editor of Fashion Frank Magazine, which is run out of the photography department.
Smith, along with the rest of the senior team, was in charge of building the most current issue of the magazine from the ground up and getting it ready for distribution through the Apple App store. She also created the bulk of the written content for the magazine.
She credits the rest of the senior team and her instructor, Jo-Nell Sieren, with encouraging her to take risks with her writing.
“[Frank Magazine gave] me the opportunity to collaborate with some crazy talented people and be [a part of] the most supportive team I've worked with thus far,” says Smith.
On top of her full class load, Smith has started a career of freelancing for notable publications around the city.
“My freshman year I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. That’s another good thing about Columbia; they make sure that you’re working or they make sure you see people [who] are working and it inspires you.”
This desire to do more led to an internship at Modern Luxury Chicago, as well as freelance work for Interiors Chicago and the Chicago Louis Vuitton City Guide.
“Now I have bylines and it’s crazy to see your name in an actual print publication.”
As far as advice goes, Smith recommends more than anything that young creatives stay focused.
“Really apply yourself both in the classroom and out in the world,” she says. “Always be practicing your craft and really buckle down when you’re in class. It’s important to constantly be thinking of ways to better yourself because you are surrounded by talent here. If you’re constantly producing, something good is bound to happen.”