Spoon University is now a global publication, but where does the USFSP chapter fit into that? It all starts with a woman named Jenna Rimensnyder.

After becoming aware of the platform as a grad student at USF St. Petersburg, Rimensnyder said she was surprised to learn that a chapter did not exist at the campus, and became determined to start it herself. Her quest to establish the chapter included compiling 300 signatures, building her team, and signing up in the school’s club system. Oh yeah, and she managed to do all of this in four weeks.

In the time since Rimensnyder graduated and left the school and her legacy behind, she has had a successful career in food journalism, her latest stint being the food and drink editor at Creative Loafing.

Recently, she was gracious enough to spend over an hour talking with me about her job. Here are just a few of the tips I took away from that interview, from the founder herself, for any other aspiring food journalists out there.

1. Get plugged in

“Follow people who inspire you, and then follow people who those people are following,” said Rimensnyder. She emphasized the importance of using social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, not just as means to network, but also to help with creativity. Along the same point, it is also vital to know your community and what is happening in it. (And, for the record, Rimensnyder’s preferred platform is Instagram).

2. Have the right tools

In order to garner success, there are a few tools that reporters should have. A recorder for interviews is always handy, as well as online editing tools such as Grammarly. Rimensnyder also admitted that having a camera is helpful in this specific field of journalism, and that self-taught photography techniques can go a long way (again, this is where following people you find inspiring is important).

3. Always make sure your work is top-notch

“Being thorough is everything, especially as a contributor,” said Rimensnyder. She says that starting out as a contributor to publications, you want to consistently hand in good work and make your editor’s job as easy as possible to keep them coming back to you for stories. Do not burn any bridges because you cannot be bothered to check your grammar or verify your sources.

4. You are a journalist, not a PR person

Towing the line between being treated as a journalist by businesses and companies and being treated as free marketing can be rough. This is especially true if you are just starting out, and are not as experienced with being assertive. Rimensnyder’s advice? “Know what’s newsworthy and know what’s fluff.” She acknowledges that it can be hard to realize when you may be being taken advantage of, which is why it is important to have mentors to help you out when these situations arise.

5. Determine what success means to you, and if being a journalist fulfills that

Rimensnyder says that her idea of success is being recognized for her hard work, and being seen as a reliable source that people can look to when they have questions. Journalism can be a career path with ebbs and flows, and you really have to hustle as a freelancer to see the payoff. Still, depending on your idea of success and what is important to you, Rimensnyder acknowledges that the job can be extremely rewarding.

Clearly, Rimensnyder is a wealth of wisdom for us rookies out here. I don’t know about you, but she definitely ticks the box for people that inspire me from tip number one, and if she does for you too, you can follow her Twitter and Instagram here.