Alex Banks

Sometimes a setback can lead to a new path and unexpected journey.

In my case, an unexpected college change forced me to consider a new major, which has led me back to my hometown newspaper.

It all started when I was a freshman in college and really trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life and what truly made me happy every day. At the time I was determined to be an actor on Broadway or even own my own theatre company or be a drama teacher when I got out of college. During my first three months all was going well. Learning the art, being in shows and then teaching kids on the weekend was great, but then it all came to a rapid halt on a fine November morning. I remember it quite clearly. My advisor called me up to his office and told me he had some bad news....that the theatre program was being discontinued and I had to find a new major. I had no idea what to pick at all because at the time all I knew was that I liked performing on stage and entertaining people.

So I talked with my mom and many other people back home here in Newman and they told me do something that makes me happy. Theatre made me happy but I felt I needed to really look deeply within myself and find something I can study that is sort of similar and still an art and still fun to me. After about two weeks of just doing general ed classes my answer came to me. I knew I loved cameras, taking pictures and also making videos when I was in high school, so I tried it out at the college level. My first film and photography class literally opened my mind to a wholea new world, and something I ended up figuring out I was kind of good at.

Soon after I joined my school’s content marketing team and I learned even more skills there by taking pictures at athletic events and other activities, doing interviews afters games and also during events we hosted at our school, and filming promo videos for my school, churches and friends who needed them, as well as a business I contacted.

That led me to contact my school sports teams to do live commentary for their games and then doing post-game interviews and gathering all the information for my team to be able to write a story for the upcoming week. I was so thankful because without a dramatic change of a major taking place I would have never discovered this other talent about myself.

From photography contests, film festivals, sports journalism and working on a content marketing team, I felt good with all the content that was building up for my portfolio as graduation approached this spring. As that day came it hit me hard that I was in the real world and I wasn’t going back to college next year. No more football, so work and a career were to come.

During my first week being back home I started my search here and there looking for companies my major fit in. I applied for companies big and small, including “Vans”… I wanted to be one of their content creators, Rise Up, a company in Minnesota and California that I learned was looking for photographers and videographers for their team and also local businesses looking for content creators. All companies either didn’t get back in contact with me or told me I just didn’t have enough experience yet to join the team.

This really set me back to wondering if I chose the right career to do because I wasn’t getting anything yet with any company. Until one day I was at home with family and they told me that a job at Mattos Newspapers opened up and I should apply and see what happens. So let me tell you, when I got called for an interview I was beyond happy - and nervous for all this to be happening to me. I walked in and I met Susan Mattos and I was immediately scared of her right on the spot, but of course I didn’t show it on my face. We talked for quite some time and then Dean Harris joined in and started talking about the job and what is to be expected. Then, within minutes, they hired me and told me I was joining the Mattos team.

It was the happiest moment of my life that day, that my talent was being accepted and someone liked it. Fast forward until now. My time here has been great and all I have been learning along the way has made me into a better and more knowledgeable person.

It took me more out of comfort zone going from interviews of people I’ve known for four years to people I literally just met, but now its easy for me. Being at this company has been a blast. Thank you to everyone here at Mattos Newspapers for getting my career started.....I can’t wait to see what the future holds!