During senior year in high school on trip to New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii, Dan Peltier ’14 (journalism/political science) of Billerica, MA, was infected with the travel bug. A subsequent visit to several European countries, and another to Greece and Italy, made him a hopeless case. “These trips made me realize that study abroad was in the cards. I planned my semester abroad [to Italy] for years and saved up as well,” says Peltier, who last winter was the recipient of an SBS Study Abroad Scholarship.
Working as a freelance reporter for the Billerica Minuteman during those high school years gave Peltier a career direction, though he admits—and rues—that UMass was not at the top of his college choices. “I had no idea of how fantastic the Journalism Department is or all the opportunities this campus would offer me to grow as a writer and a person. If I could change one thing about my college application process, it would be to get over how I perceived UMass’ reputation—or the reputation of any school, for that matter. Now, I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.”
Peltier has always had a love for writing, and he admits to being nosey! “Nosey about what others are talking about, what they think, everything—and telling their stories,” he says. It’s only natural, with his love of travel, that he would find a way to combine these interests.
“I’d like to become a foreign correspondent or travel writer, living on the Mediterranean, and actually get paid well for what I write,” Peltier muses. “But really, I’m open to living anywhere because I’m not afraid to leave behind what’s familiar and comfortable. Life is too short not to live it to the fullest. I don’t want to wake up one day and regret never have gone anywhere interesting.”
Peltier is off to a good start. Last spring he spent four months in Rome—“by far the best four months of my life,” he says. “I grew so much as a person and a traveler. I believe I could live in any city, adapt and thrive. Studying abroad teaches you things, like how to live in a place that doesn’t speak the same language and how to ‘learn’ a new city.”
While abroad Peltier shared experiences on his blog, begun when his first journalism professor required blog posts for homework assignments. “I had kept it running and expanded its scope to cover current events,” he says. “In Rome, I shifted to writing about being there, and now I’m back to writing about current events, but also mixing in some travel writing.” The blog has almost 200 followers, and Peltier is eager to increase that number.
This semester Peltier is interning at GoNOMAD.com, a respected travel website, and serving as travel editor of AmherstWire, an online news magazine for the UMass Amherst community. “I plan on proving myself so an employer will take a chance on letting me live my dream.”
In early March Peltier represented GoNOMAD at the New York Times Travel Show and networked with several experts, writers and other professionals in the travel industry. GoNOMAD has posted many of Peltier’s clips. “Every week I’m given at least two feature stories to write, and I interview a lot of people over the phone,” he says. “I also do other work for the site, like promoting GoNOMAD on social media, editing other articles, and enhancing our SEO.” GoNOMAD also sent Peliter to Falmouth, MA, for its St. Patrick’s Day celebration to do a story. “It’s been a great experience. I’m learning a lot about the travel industry and how a website is managed.”
Peltier has been impressed with the Journalism Department, particularly its commitment to show students what the field is really like in the 21st century, and how to anticipate what will come next. “I’ve learned how to think critically, read widely, write professionally, and produce a compelling news package. All of my journalism classes have been small (less than 15 students and every professor has known my name). You end up having multiple classes with your classmates which allows you to develop lifelong friendships.”
If you are a prospective student, or already on campus, Peltier has some good advice: “Get started on your career ASAP! Don’t be afraid to get involved. Start networking with employers and don’t stop. Go to career fairs and all those talks your major puts on, bringing employers and speakers to campus. Use that gigantic alumni network. UMass is huge (even though it doesn’t feel big once you’re here), so no one is going to check to make sure you’ve secured that summer internship or are taking the right courses for your career choice. Be your own advocate! There is a lot of red tape and bureaucracy to cut through, but in many ways that is exactly what the real world is like. Don’t be afraid to approach the administration or faculty for help—they work for you. Go abroad…it makes you more independent and intelligent…and start planning freshman year!”