Friday, May 15, 2009

Job Hunt Update

Landed two job interviews. One opening is for a news editor position overseeing seven Toronto magazines, the other as a TV producer for a Chinese cable network. I feel blessed for these opportunities considering how difficult it is to break into journalism.

A short time ago, I crashed a party an acquaintance of an acquaintance was throwing in honour of -- who knows? -- spring showers and salsa dancing. I met a woman my age with a certificate in journalism, struggling to get her foot in the door. She pays the bills as a receptionist for a painfully "boring" marketing company and is too dejected to freelance.

That's the typical story around these parts. I know less than a handful of people with whom I graduated holding reporting jobs (I'm talking three if we're lucky, two covering local sports). My friends now aspire to graduate school, law school, business school, anything to make ends meet, putting aside their ambitions in this industry.

This woman also groused about the lack of understanding she received from those around her. I sympathized. I've met a lot of unhelpful people, doling out the same tired truism: "Just put yourself out there and write!"

But then again, journalism has never been for the faint of heart (I've been doing it since I was 17). It is one of the least stable professions while being quite accommodating to enterprising individuals. Self-starters. Fast thinkers. Rule breakers. It's essentially a hardcore business and glorified paper pushers need not apply.

My resume reads like a patchwork of print and broadcast jobs with no particular pattern linking them all. I can admit that each one was strategic. I avoided repeating placements because I could only work summers and I wanted to illustrate the breadth of my skills. I also tried to flex my leadership abilities in order to extend my job description. So unlike many of my peers, I knew I couldn't rely on my degree alone to gain access to a corner office. I didn't, in other words, squander my summers because I knew it would eventually pay off.

On the flip side, I know I'm a picky fucker, having never applied for positions necessary to "pay my dues." Needless to say, I've done a lot of bullshitting. I'm ambitious and tirelessly dedicated, but I do not have the disposition for menial tasks. An arrogant proclamation, not one I'm proud of, but there you go. I'm susceptible to depressive moods when I'm stuck in a routine, either voluntarily or involuntarily, so I've learned to embrace that less-than-Protestant side of myself and tone down the pressure to conform.

So despite what everyone internalizes about the relationship between success and hard work, this recession has taught me that following the rules -- attending the right schools, knowing the right people, putting in 16-hour days -- will not protect you from the ruthless gears of change. When it's time for you to go, you're out of there.

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