When I was 15, my mom said it was time to get another hobby. I had always been into sports growing up, but this time she meant something different. This is the story of how I started my career as a journalist and advice on how to find your ‘dream job!’
“You need something that will set you apart for college,” my mom told me.
She was right. college admissions were getting increasingly competitive – and are still today.
But what hobby?! I liked sports. I liked to hang out with friends. What else did I like?
My parents said it first. You like to write. What about doing something with that? But I had no idea what extracurricular could involve ‘fun’ writing. My mom had worked for her high school newspaper and loved it. So she suggested I try to write for a newspaper.
Soon after, she took me to the local town newspaper to offer my services – whatever was needed. I was to help with administrative tasks, but they said I could also pitch stories if I had any good ideas.
I was taking a summer school class that July to get ahead. I wanted to get history out of the way so I could take drama during the school year. It was in that summer school history class that I got my first big break!
One day, in the middle of class, we saw a rat pop out of a hole in the wall. It wouldn’t be the last time that summer. So I started investigating – talking to people, asking questions, looking for answers on why this was happening.
I took my story to the town’s paper and it turned into a front-page exposé!
So that’s the story of how I started my journalism career. From there I worked for my high school newspaper eventually becoming Editor-in-Chief, while continuing to contribute to the town newspaper as well.
I went to college to study print journalism, but the financial crisis happened. While every career looked dismal at the time, journalism – already known for not paying well – didn’t look like a solid bet for the high cost of tuition. So I switched to communications and marketing. But that’s the thing about a passion, you can’t really let it go. By senior year I was interning for major broadcast companies, having realized my love for video.
Then what was once a dream became a reality. I got my master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. And there you have it. Ever since I’ve worked in news.
I was lucky enough to find my dream job at 15, but here is some advice on how to find your dream job today:
- First, let’s change the definition of ‘dream job.’ I use that phrase because it’s relatable, but really a job is a job. Once you realize work is something you need to do to put food on the table, it may change your perspective a bit. I choose to define ‘dream job’ as a job you can do every day, day after day, and take pride in doing. It’s something that will motivate you to get up in the morning, and something you’ll be happy to share with your friends and family. Remember, it’s a job – but doing it makes you feel fulfilled.
- To start finding your ‘dream job,’ think about what makes you happy. Is there a certain skill or talent you possess that you think you can contribute to a career in some way? Or if you can’t think of anything yourself, start to ask others around you. Say to a friend, “Hey, what do you think are some of my strengths?” You may find out something new about yourself. I’ve had many people tell me I’d be a good therapist. Perhaps that could have been my career if journalism didn’t work out!
- Another way to pinpoint a good job for yourself is to get a book on careers and spend time going through it and seeing what interests you. I met someone who did this very thing and figured out she wanted to become a speech therapist. All because of a book!
- Begin to network. Talking to others in this industry will give you perspective on how your day to day will look. Is this something you think will make you feel fulfilled? Will it give you the structure or flexibility you want in your life?
- Then visualize yourself in this role. Does it make you smile? That should be enough to tell you if you’re on the right track!