'What do you want to do with your degree?'
Sitting in the front row at my final senior seminar class I was perplexed. I had told my professors, my advisors, and my parents that I wanted a career in print journalism. I worked on the campus newspaper, not the online magazine, so I could set the page layouts and feel the paper. I interned at two local papers that still hadn’t fully embraced online reporting so I could edit pages. I sent in application after application to papers so I could get my dream job. Yet still they asked me, what do you want to do with your degree?
Maybe I was naive to think print wouldn't disappear. It's still there, barely hanging on to its readership.
In the four years since I had applied to Saint Michael's College, journalism had drastically changed. Newspapers had moved online to survive. Students were required to know how to edit film, print, and online content to graduate. We made Web sites, created videos, and wrote articles in hopes we'd someday do it for pay.
Upon graduating, I still didn't have a job lined up. Perhaps I was thinking naively that someone would have an opening. I was wrong. The few interviews I did have ended with, "You'd be great, but . . ." There was always someone more qualified and out of work, or for one editor, the mistrust of young entry-level journalists. He claimed he had a bad experience with a college student that quit and thought we were all the same. I wish he had given me the chance to prove him wrong.
A few months ago, I had all but given up. I wasn't able to produce more clips and the feeling of failure was ever looming. That's when I realized it would only be my fault if I threw in the towel. So I did what any desperate young writer would do, I started a blog. Not a "look at me blog," but a way to publish clips. Even if I wasn't making any money out of it, at least I was doing something that I loved.
So I blogged, I blogged, and I blogged. I blogged until I found a site that said they would pay me to blog. It was pennies, but it was something.
In reality, it's all about the evolution of journalism. The United States has lost a fifth of its journalists to newspaper cutbacks and bankruptcy. That's a huge chunk of the industry fighting for a new job. Where was it leaving me, an entry-level reporter? My competition is steep; they have 20 years of experience, I have less than one.
But back to the question, what do I want to do with my degree? It's simple, I want to write. Whether it's online or in print, I want to write. Getting a job is the same as trying to get that really good quote from an interview; ask questions in different ways, meet new people, and don't give up.
So I will continue to blog, and I won't stop applying for jobs. Because if I do, I may never see my dream come true.
Veronica Reino, 23, is a 2009 graduate from Saint Michael's College with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication and minors in French and Global Studies. She currently works full-time welcoming guests to the Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, NH to pay off college loans. In her spare time, she blogs at www.vreino.wordpress.com and http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/vreino.