My Experience As An Unemployed Journalism Grad

What many don’t know about me is that I’ve struggled with unemployment and anxiety.

Well I wasn’t technically completely unemployed, since I’d work for my Dad on call and freelance write.

But otherwise, between random internships and volunteering, I was basically unemployed. Now, I wasn’t “doing nothing.” I wasn’t only watching reruns of Pretty Little Liars and coping with anxiety issues. Just to clarify since there’s still a resounding negative stigma attached to unemployment…

Not so much as it was before, especially considering the previous recession. Not to mention the oversupply of grads and lack of work in various industries – specifically journalism.

I wouldn’t blame one person’s unemployment on an entire global epidemic. But if I must explain myself…

For as long as I remember, I’ve been an anxious person. Transitioning from a reserved child into an opinionated woman, I can definitely say I talk. It’s more about how I present myself when I communicate. I smile and make eye contact, but I speak rather quickly. Perhaps indeliberate signs of trepidation came through in my interviews, and I didn’t realize until afterwards. I understand there are certain parts of my being that I have little to no control over. But I say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” and I’m just narrowing it down to the fact that I’m a naturally nervous person.

I held a few part-time jobs during school. I’ve worked at a restaurant, sales company, amusement park and movie theatre; usually for the summer. During the school year, I’d work for my Dad on call.

As long as I was in school, I didn’t think these menial jobs would matter in the long run. But, little did I know…

The no-experience-no-job cycle always rang evident. It wasn’t until after my graduation that I truly comprehended that concept through my own reality..

I assumed I would be able to focus on my career, even if I was unemployed – that I would only need to look for jobs in my field, because degrees really should come with magic wands (and instructions). But I carried a disadvantage over many other journalism students, because my program didn’t utilize any internship placements.

My fourth-year professor finally spit out there were “no jobs in journalism” and emphasized the value of entrepreneurship, surviving in this cut throat industry as a freelance writer. That was 2010. After graduation, I went to school for an entrepreneurship diploma and finished my studies in 2011.

Running my own blog, I thought I had it made (maybe). I remained optimistic and believed one thing would lead to another. Because in this industry, you have to. Unfortunately, what followed was a rude awakening.

I continued to apply for internships, because in Toronto, school credit isn’t a mandatory requirement for most internships. However, companies prefer those who need it for school credit. This made it all the harder for me.

I enjoyed a short stint as a paid intern – then editor – this summer, but I now work at a call centre full-time – a job that provides stability and routine in my life, at least for the meantime.

When you’re applying for jobs and attending interviews to no avail, you start to think there’s something wrong with you – when in fact, being a graduate unemployed for a year (or longer) is quite common now. It’s scary.

However, I paved my own route and chose freelance. In my case, majority of the time, I wasn’t even paid.

I’ll research the news for ideas or blog about anything, so I develop experience in writing a variety of content. That way, if I apply for that legal writing gig, I actually have some damn legal writing experience. But it’s impossible to have experience writing about everything and everyone that has ever breathed, because since when do I think about aviation?

When I spot a local celebrity open to interviews, I go for it, since I can’t stop asking questions. Being a pain in the ass: It’s a talent, really. And that’s why I love writing about entertainment.

I frequently ask myself if I created all this psychological ejaculation in my head as a defense mechanism for being too picky. Scanning a job ad for scam-like characteristics is perfectly essential; but when you acknowledge that stereotypical sense of graduate entitlement, you begin to question if that’s a defense mechanism too. I didn’t get a university degree to work as a server or salesperson, so I avoided those positions like the plague. Although I should’ve surrendered to either job, just so I had one.

But because of my anxiety, I never performed successfully on my feet during my previous work experience. That was one of the real reasons I also avoided those jobs. Truth be told, it was difficult to fill any related administrative vacancies; so I kept asking myself if it was really all necessary. After all, I graduated from journalism, sorry, writing school; and I didn’t waste 4 years of my life to be underemployed. So I tried to brainwash myself into thinking it was better to be unemployed yet somehow gaining experience for the industry I trained in, than to be a barista and work.

Of course, I could move for work. But, not everyone can just pack their bags and leave. And majority of Canadian media companies live in Toronto, so why move? Where do I find the money to intern in NYC – for free?

But when you refuse one job for one reason, then you refuse another – and another. And then eventually, you just don’t want to do anything. You let yourself go. You give up.

So, where does that leave me? I’m not sure, but I’m glad I finally have the opportunity to share my feelings and let people know they’re not alone. Thank you for that. TC mark

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