A MinD in MoTown

There’s nothing left for me to do but DANCE!
October 1, 2008, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Just whatever, News Girl, The world revolves around me

After meandering through the local “Business Expo” nearly two hours ago, shaking hands with people I’ve already forgotten and exchanging both pleasantries and business cards with individuals I won’t see again until next year’s event, all while snagging as many free pens/mouse pads/mints as possible without looking destitute, I began thinking about my own career.

There are so many individuals assumably content in their job positions, ones which differ greatly from my own. I, too, am quite happy with my chosen career, but – especially now, with the economic downturn – it’s unfortunately disappearing from under my feet. While the newspaper I currently work at is likely to avoid the troubles other regional publications are undergoing – many of them declaring bankruptcy (Creative Loafing) or simply shutting down the presses (New York Sun) – I cannot help but wonder (uh oh, Carrie Bradshaw creeping in, yet again, sorry folks!) what would happen to me if the day came where there simply wasn’t a news puplication for me to work at.

To be honest, I’m not sure I can do much else … and with a journalism degree in one hand, and an English degree in the other, my options are somewhat limited.

Teaching is already out of the question. My lack of patience proved that notion when I was in high school, attempting to hone my brother’s math skills. “Don’t ask questions. There’s no ‘why?’ in math. Just do what I say and you’ll get the right answer.” Strike One.

Creative writing is an unlikely prospect as I had to work twice as hard as my peers to maintain a B+ in my 400-level fiction writing class senior year of college. Apparently, I don’t get to the point quick enough and surround my tales with verbose, unnecessary commentary and quotes. And let’s face it folks, I’m just not that funny. Strike Two.

Editing the works of others brings up not only the patience, or lack thereof, issue, but my disdain for reading things I find uninteresting. I could not simply peruse the pages of a science textbook, looking for grammar and punctuation problems, without dozing to sleep on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Strike Three. 

Writing, seemingly, is the only thing I’m good at … and something I thoroughly enjoy. If, by some strange misfortune, I’m unable to remain in this industry, I have no idea where my short list of skills would otherwise  come in handy.

I don’t appreciate history – sans a few things, such as the Titanic and old newspapers. I loathe science and all related subject areas. I’m too nice (it’s true) to swindle folks out of money – i.e. advertising and sales. I’m far too apathetic about most nonprofits, as sad as that may sound. And, let’s face it, I simply could not work in a job I’m unhappy with.

So unless I write the next best novel to hit American bookshelves, I’ve already destined myself for an uncertain future. I’ll never sit at a booth, hoping someone wants to learn about the “advanced” gutter system my company can install on their house. It’s unlikely I’ll stop people in their tracks with promises of “a chance at free gas” if they listen to my five-minute presentation about hospice care. And I probably won’t hand out samples of my finest bisque while praying those just seeking free food may, one day, stop into my restaurant. That future is not mine …

But, as I’ve already sadly learned, neither is the one I’m desperately trying to carve myself now.

So, at what point do I say, “maybe this journalism thing won’t pan out” and begin seeking alternatives? When does it become evident that living on my hopes and dreams alone will lead to a dead end when the industry eventually turns to an internet-only market? And how the hell do I divert away from something I know I’m good at – subjective, of course – to attempt a new venture that may or may not lead to yet another “no outlet”?

I apologize for the whiny undercurrent evident in this post. My bad.

11 Comments so far
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In situations like this I advise, in no particular order, booze, cupcakes, and travel – the ultimate goal being perspective 🙂

Comment by [F]oxymoron

There have been a lot of stories lately about papers going under, but I think there will always be a job for writers. What about magazines?

Comment by Megkathleen

I feel your pain, girl, I feel your pain. We’ll be ok. And if not, prostitution’s legal in Nevada. Hah.

Comment by hautepocket

I, too, was an English major.

The trick is to try several things in the first 5 years and then realize what you want to do. Don’t force it, it’ll come.

Whoops, that sounded worse than I intended.

Comment by Arjewtino

You could write on bathroom walls for a living and I would still read you.

you got skill. dont sell yourself short…Im sure you could write anywhere you want, if you tried.

Comment by Matt

Or, if you want to view it from the eternal optimist’s point of view (as I’ve been clinging to for the past 4 months) an English degree means we can do anything (with just a bit more training and the right employer willing to give us a shot). However, I am, at this point, considering returning to PA and hiking back to college (grad school) to pursue psychology. Not necessarily where I saw myself just a year ago, but numbers talk more than I ever gave them credit for from the back of the room in my math classes.

Comment by Aimee

What exactly do you do and where do you work?

I know exactly how you feel…sort of. I’ve been in Philadelphia for two months and STILL cant find a job! My biggest issue is that I totally majored in the wrong thing in college. I went through college with the hopes of working at a major television network (ABC, NBC) or a major record label (Sony, Arista, Warner)..whatever. The point is that now I realize, this really isn’t what I want. So I’ve been looking for social service type stuff because that’s really what I’ve grown to have some sort of passion about. Needless to say, nobody wants to hire me in that field with a degree in Mass Communications. Everybody wants a degree in Social Services and Health. So not only do they feel I’m not qualified, but I’m already placed a step behind people who actually have the degree. So it’s extra hard and requires even more work and convincing.

Having said that, at least you’re at a job you enjoy. Weather it will or wont be there a few years from now….who the fuck cares? Appreciate it while you have it. You are seriously really lucky to be able to write and do something you like.


Comment by Justin Taroli!

If you figure it out, let me know. I’ve got the same degrees as you from the same school and I’m wondering the same thing: what the hell do I do if I decide to stop doing this?

So far my best option is perpetual student. Not in a Van Wilder, I’ll take that 5th year at Penn State kind of way. More in the well, I don’t have a degree in poetry yet, kind of way.

Comment by stealthnerd

INFORMING PEOPLE is the career you’ve chosen….don’t get hung up on whether the end user is getting your material in a newspaper, a website, a television, or a bathroom wall.

Comment by Jim

Foxy: Ah, cupcakes – the way straight to my heart!

Meg: Most magazines have articles that are more appealing for the reader, yet less well written. Not all, there are some great ones out there, but with my limited experience – and none in magazines – it’d be very hard to get into.

Haute: That it is, but requires a completely different skill.

Arjew: Ha, didn’t sound too bad. I just wish I didn’t stumble into what I wanted to do already. Not sure how many other things are out there I’ll enjoy as much. Perhaps there’s something though.

Matt: Aww, thanks hun! =) That was sweet.

Aimee: An English degree can go far, it’s just discovering something else I love. I’m not one for doing something solely for cash.

Justin: I’m a reporter at a local paper here in NC. My beat is primarily schools, but I write a lot of feature stories as well. And I’m sure you’ll find something. Philly’s at least better than Pittston, ha.

Nerd: Oh, I’ll definitely let you know! Ha. I keep debating returning for another degree – UNC, perhaps. We’ll see.

Jim: “Informing people” isn’t what I chose. A career writing for print newspapers is. It’s definitely different writing for TV and magazines, and I, by far, prefer the print news industry.

Comment by amindinmotown

I’m in the same boat as you, and it sucks. I don’t like thinking about the future for fear there won’t be a job for me in photojournalism…

Comment by stylishhandwriting

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