Devin Katayama admits that he’s “always had an interest in weird, unique people” and for many years he’s been on a quest to illuminate their stories. After graduating with a BA in English from Hunter College, Devin lived in San Francisco and Portland, where he worked in a law firm, was an EMT, taught after-school programs, and was employed at KQED San Francisco, a public radio station. In 2009, he came to Columbia College Chicago, hoping to turn his interest in people’s stories into a formalized career.
Chicago is one of the largest media markets in the country and offers emerging journalists countless opportunities to tell their stories.
When Devin applied to study at Columbia, he hoped the Journalism program would offer him the tools he needed to excel in the field. He says, “I wanted to learn a professional and intelligent way to create the type of stories I was after.” His expectations were met—the program has helped him develop his own journalistic voice and schooled him in the practical methods of hunting down a narrative. He has also learned how to approach journalism with a sense of self-awareness.
“Students should know what their skills are, where they need help, and shouldn’t be afraid to be greedy—go after the story!” he advises. For Devin, Journalism students are at Columbia to improve their own skills and should make sure that they are always focused on that. "At the same time," he says, "they need to stay engaged with the College-wide community and keep their ear to the ground for extra-curricular projects that they can get involved in."
Being able to report at city hall or the state building are irreplaceable experiences. Additionally, the professors are there to answer questions or to ask them right back. Journalism students are given the opportunity to prove themselves on a big stage, but the faculty are always there to offer support and feedback.
Students in the program work closely with the faculty to continually develop their storytelling style. To Devin’s delight, the Journalism program does not focus solely on print journalism—students are encouraged to use their skills to tell stories through a variety of outlets. Devin specializes in public radio journalism and interned at WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR affiliate. Journalism graduate students also have the opportunity to work as writers and editors for ChicagoTalks.com, a website co-founded by Columbia Journalism professors Barbara Iverson and Suzanne McBride. Chicago is one of the largest media markets in the country and offers emerging journalists countless opportunities to tell their stories.
For Devin, these opportunities, combined with the support of the faculty, are the greatest strength of the program. “Being able to report at city hall or the state building are irreplaceable experiences,” he says. “Additionally, the professors are there to answer questions or to ask them right back. Journalism students are given the opportunity to prove themselves on a big stage, but the faculty are always there to offer support and feedback.”
Devin came to Columbia looking to make a career out of his love for stories of the unusual. Having recently graduated from the program in December 2010, Devin has legitimized his interests and now holds a viable degree. He looks forward to venturing into the field with the same enthusiasm for storytelling that he’s always embodied, but with a new set of tools and credentials that will set him on the path to success as a journalist.