The Struggles of Job Hunting After Graduating Art School

While I’m not a fan of making New Year resolutions (mainly because I am unable to keep them for more than a few minutes), I do have a few goals I wish to accomplish by next year. My main priority is to start a career.  I am lucky enough to have a job with a steady income that allows me to pay bills, but it has nothing to do with my either of my degrees.

Most college graduates are warned that finding a job may be tough, especially if you graduated from an art school like me.  I went to Columbia College Chicago and left with one degree in journalism and another in arts, entertainment and media management.  What the hell do you do with a duel degree like that? I don’t know. I did had this glorified idea of running away with an up-and-coming rock band and documenting their raw, ruthless struggles for a national music magazine, but that hasn’t quite worked out.   I blame Almost Famous.  That kid made it look so damn easy.

“Don’t worry,” I told myself as graduation approached without any job prospects.  “Something is bound to come up! Who wouldn’t want to hire a smart, outgoing, graduate like yourself?”  Well, apparently no one.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.  People do want to hire me, just not for jobs I want.  I know, I know. I shouldn’t be picky.  I should be thankful for any opportunity that comes my way. But I don’t see the point in leaving my current job, which I’m semi-passionate about, for a job I have no passion for.

What I want to do is write (hence this blog and my contribution to other publications).  But making a steady career out of writing is not simple. Here’s the problem:  The internet has made it so easy to publish anything and everything that a lot of online platforms aren’t paying for content.  They rope in writers by offering exposure and experience.

If you are a writer of any sort, especially if you have a degree, don’t EVER agree to write for nothing, especially if the publication is making a profit.  Really this goes for anyone pursuing a career in the arts.  Think about it:  Would you ever ask a mechanic to fix your car for free or for a doctor to perform a surgery for free? Probably not.  Most likely, they would be insulted, as am I whenever I’m asked to work without compensation.

I shouldn’t say it’s never okay to write for free.  Like anything else, there are exceptions.  If you are working for a nonprofit or writing on a topic that you are truly passionate about or has the potential to greatly impact people, then go it.  Even unpaid internships can be worth it if you receive school credit or other perks (free lunch at the office is always a plus).

Maybe I’m crazy for turning down opportunities, paid or otherwise, but the way I see it, there’s no time for settling. If I’m going to make any New Year resolution this year, it’s going to be to realize my worth and pursue what I love.

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