Little did I know, my future career began when I was a junior at Arizona State University. I was enrolled as a slightly-disinterested print journalism major in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism – prestigious, I know – with a tourism minor. My goal was to become a travel writer, like those fortunate enough to be sent around the world to extravagant locations, much like the hosts of Travel Channel Shows.
But then I took a class entitled Business and Future of Journalism. Not only was I exposed to the fact that my field of journalism was forecasted – not predicted, forecasted – to be extinct within 30 years, but I also learned that the future of journalism as a whole was quickly moving to the digital realm, something I only used to submit papers or slaughter a few friends in Call of Duty. Having been faced with the very real possibility of graduating college into a dying field, I decided to bite the bullet and enroll myself in an online media course, hoping it would at least move my resume further up in the pile of the eventually unemployed.
I loved my online media class. I went from a person who basically only used the Internet to access Wikipedia to a full-blown web geek. I even took the advanced portion of the course the next semester, learning to design my own webpages and how to make Flash objects. I found myself shifting away from the ideal of being a travel writer (another job that could soon be left hungry) to some sort of multimedia journalist, something I still am pursuing.
I interned with a local radio station’s website, News/Talk 92.3 KTAR. While I spent my time, as many interns do, performing menial site updates, transcribing audio and maybe working on a few press releases, I did get to experience a fair bit of breaking news. At the end of the internship, I inquired about employment, was told there were no openings (I probably shouldn’t have shown up 30 minutes late a few times), but we parted ways amicably.
Fast forward one year. To make ends meet, I was bartending and managing a restaurant that I had worked at since I was 18. But then I got a call from my old boss at KTAR, who was looking for immediate help. I took the job and was moved from a part-time employee to a full-time Web Content Editor at KTAR.com in December 2011, after a year of working poor shifts and bugging my boss daily to bump me up.
Looking back on it, a series of well-taken hints and a leap of faith lead me to my current job, but it’s much more than that. I graduated with honors from a prestigious journalism school. I worked hard to make ends meet and even turned down a few job offers from sites like Yelp! that I knew were not for me. I held out for the job that would allow me to pay the bills, but that would also interest and challenge me.
What I took from everything was this: try everything you can once. Don’t take no for an answer and don’t sell yourself short. The economy and job market are really, really bad right now. You have to fight for every inch. But if you don’t fight for it, no one is sitting by waiting to help. Sometimes you have to make ends meet and there’s no shame in that, but make sure, when you sign that W-2 at the start of your new career, you’re where you want to be and doing what you want to do.