Earlier this year, I made a really dumb decision. I quit my job at the Tracy Press. I was young, burned out, bitter and had wholly overestimated my worth in the job market.
A month later, I took a job as a technical writer. The money — I’m not going to lie — was much better than anything I could get in journalism at the time. It was a boring job, but one I knew I could do. At least, I thought so. The company seemed really solid, something I’ve never really been used to in my time as a journalist. In my first week there, they had a barbeque for all the employees celebrating 10 years of business. I thought I had it made. I was getting assignments done ahead of deadline.
I was on a four-week contract, kind of a tryout period. If they liked me after those four weeks, they’d keep me on permanently. I’ve been through these before, and I figured if you didn’t mess up, it was just a formality. Not this time. I was released after 3 1/2 weeks. My boss said that I was getting stuff done too quickly and that they didn’t really know what to have me work on next. He said they were now looking for someone with different skills.
That really hurt.
So now, I’ve applied to jobs at newspapers and various other non-journalism gigs. There’s a great disparity in pay between the two. I’m really struggling, thinking of which kind of job I want.
On one hand, it was really nice having that other job, dreaming of my own apartment (I’m still living in a house w/roommates, like I’m in college), and nice things like an HDTV, cable, trips to SoCal and Chicago. I was very close to having financial flexibility for the first time in my life. A job outside of journalism would probably allow me to do more stuff such as pay bills and chip away at that significant debt from student loans and car payments, etc.
However… it’s not journalism. I read stuff by my favorite writers, such as Jeff Pearlman, Joe Posnanski, Chris Jones and Pat Jordan and I just imagine writing again. It’s pretty much all I’ve ever known. I offered my talents to a few local papers as a freelancer… nothing. Pitched stories… nothing. Tried to freelance an NCAA Tournament game or two in San Jose… nothing. I watch games and kind of live vicariously through my friends who are still in journalism. I miss it so badly, even if I’ll never get rich or probably afford cable for quite some time. I feel in my heart that it’s what I was meant to do.
So far, as far as jobs in journalism? I’ve received nothing but rejection e-mails and (more often) nothing. I know there are hundreds to thousands of applicants for pretty much every reporter or editor opening right now. I just feel so lost in the shuffle. I don’t know how to make myself stand out to potential employers anymore. I just want a job as a team’s beat writer, something I unfortunately haven’t really had since my junior year of college. I owned that, but that was so long ago. I miss getting familiar with unlikely sources, working for that little tidbit and bringing a new perspective.
I’m still applying for reporter jobs. Wish me luck.