Column: One piece of advice: have determination

By Kathleen Foody

The panic isn’t new for me.

From the day I decided I would major in journalism, everyone warned me that there are extremely limited job opportunities. From my well-meaning family members to the professors actually teaching my courses, I was terrifyingly aware of the slim chance of finding a place to work.

Of course, working and retired journalists make numerous suggestions. Just this week, editors from papers across the Midwest advised college journalists to:

  • develop diverse skills, including multimedia storytelling
  • be willing to start at a small paper
  • be determined, patient and aggressive

The odd thing is, with a little tweaking, those tips apply to every industry that a college student could enter.

Being talented at many different things, willing to work your way up to “the job” and being determined are essential for journalists, heart surgeons, farmers or small business owners.

But the one that sticks out most for me is that last piece of advice: being determined.

Putting together this guide, one thing became very clear: There is no magic formula for getting a job when the economy is this tough. No cover letter, suit or interviewing method can guarantee landing a spot with your dream employer – but a little determination seems the best possible shot at getting there.

Every young journalist working in the industry seems to have a similar story line. They worked an impossible number of hours at a college newspaper, spent hundreds of dollars on postage applying to internships anywhere and everywhere and spent an absurd number of hours working at the first place that gave them a shot.

I’m hoping that works out for me, too. Months into the internship application season, I’m sick of signing my own name on cover letters and am beginning to wonder if the pieces will ever fall into place.

Several friends have abandoned even the possibility of working at a news organization to go into graduate school, public relations or publishing. And while I can’t say I blame them or haven’t contemplated the same options for myself, I’m not willing to abandon hope quite yet.

And that is killing my parents’ nerves. My mom is definitely pushing “alternative careers,” and I know she’s only thinking of my best interests. I’m sure the idea of having their child move out of the house with a steady job is every parent’s dream.

The third piece of advice applies to parents and friends of soon-to-be college graduates, too. Patience with your child, determination to help them any way possible and being aggressive (but sympathetic) in your reminders.

The one thing that keeps me going is the realization that we’re all in this together.

Every industry has taken a hit in this economy, and everyone is afraid of not getting a job or of losing the one they have.

So take the advice you receive from all sides, combine it with your own determination and patience and keep the resumes handy.

If the resources gathered in our career guide help anyone on campus land a job, then I’ve done a large portion of my job as a journalist.

And it’s not one I intend to quit anytime soon.