If I haven’t made it clear, journalism is my passion. It’s what I love to do. I used to think I could be content anywhere in the world (for the most part) as long as I was writing. It didn’t matter the topic, just as long as I could string sentences together in a coherent fashion, I could be content.
But what I failed to realize was I don’t want to be just content. I want to wake up every morning and look forward to the work I’ll be doing that day. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize I spent a good portion of my career basically treading water because I was ‘content.’ I want to write things that not only matter to an audience, but matter to me.
I want to write about music, pro wrestling, concerts, rock stars, exciting people, ordinary people, people who think their lives aren’t worth writing a story about. I want to tell their stories. But that’s a goal that seems to be off in the distance, just out of reach.
I’m very thankful for whatever deities exist that I was able to land a job out of college. I’m getting great experience, creating good rapport within the beats I cover and writing some pretty high profile stories for the coverage area. But the amount of feature writing I’ve done since graduation is lacking.
But I have to refuse to let that get me in a slump. It seems like recent grads in their first “real” newsroom get a culture shock. I know I did. I went from a staff of about 20 (photogs, reporters and editors) for a college campus to an editorial staff of two to cover an entire area of St. Louis. But so many people seem to let that shock weigh down on them; they let it become a burden. But they shouldn’t. I shouldn’t.
It’s pretty much a guarantee that your first job out of school is not going to be your dream job. But it’s going to be a good place to get experience. It will look great on a resume. It helps you develop clips, tailor your skills and expand your knowledge on a variety of topics.
Know that there are going to be tough days, weeks, and possibly months. But it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a short amount of time in your career — even if it doesn’t feel like that at the time. It’s a stepping stone that may get submerged in water a little more than you’d like. But that doesn’t mean the sun won’t come out to dry it off sooner or later.
I don’t expect to stay in St. Louis for the rest of my life. I will, eventually, make my way out of this state. But for a first job, St. Louis sure as hell isn’t a bad place to start. In fact, it’s probably the best place to start. I just can’t let myself forget that this isn’t the beginning AND end of my career. It’s barely a beginning.