Mackenzie Hicks: Learning my way around Steamboat through art
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When I applied for a job in Steamboat Springs, I was sitting in an office in Dallas, Texas. It was so hot outside you couldn’t even feel the air conditioner running in the building. It had been another rough day, but this time, I decided a change was needed instead of another moping session, and so, I applied for a position at the Steamboat Pilot & Today and got it.
I had never been to Colorado before I moved to Steamboat, and I had hardly ever been out of the South. So, you can imagine my whole family’s surprise when I told them I had applied for a job in a state across the country from where I grew up in small-town Alabama and was taking it.
Some of you may know me, may have seen me around or chatted with me by phone or email. You probably recognize my byline from different Explore Steamboat articles here and there. And by now, you probably have read one or two of my Explore More listicles, filled with things to do online or for fun while we continue to self-isolate throughout this pandemic.
But let me give a small peek behind the byline.
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I started at the Pilot & Today as a copy editor and page designer, after working in Dallas at an appliance warranty company. Let’s just say, I learned a lot about how to work in an office environment, deal with grumpy customers and why I didn’t major in business.
I graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism. My first love has always been creative writing, but there was just something about journalism that sucked me in.
Hard news was a struggle for me, but I always loved writing about art, people and nonprofits. I wrote one or two articles for the student-led newspaper, but I was hired as copy desk chief there and found a passion of mine I hadn’t fully realized before — editing. And that is how I landed at the Pilot & Today.
Something else you should know about me is that I struggle with social anxiety, which is why interviews were my downfall in college. I’m at my happiest at home curled up with a book or out on a hike with my dogs — basically, if it’s just me and my dogs, I’m happy. It takes a lot for me to put myself out there and be around people I don’t know.
So, when the opportunity came for me to take on the role of arts and entertainment — a position that would push me out of my comfort zone, force me to climb out of my safely crafted hobbit hole — well, just like Bilbo Baggins, I decided it was worth it to take the chance. And so far, it has been an incredible experience, one I’m thankful to have accepted.
I’ve learned a lot about my new mountain home — and myself — through this position. My first big assignment for Explore was the Strings School Days. I was a nervous wreck, but it was a wonderful experience, and I was so touched by how the community came together to support the students as they performed.
Then, my first official story as editor was on the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s Behind the Scenes tour — talk about learning a lot about Routt County history and the incredible people who make sure we keep caring about it all for years to come.
From Bud Werner Memorial Library to First Friday Artwalk, this town has so much to offer for artists, musicians, authors and those who love Steamboat’s creative side. It was a great surprise for me, who only knew about the ski resort when I moved. And because I don’t ski, discovering this side of Steamboat and Routt County has made it feel more like home.
I still get to copy edit and grow my design skills every day, which helps keep my introverted side happy, but I’m looking forward to when everything is back to normal, and I can continue to learn my way through Steamboat one artwalk, museum event and author’s talk at a time.
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