20something profile: Amanda
My name is Amanda, and I graduated from St. Bonaventure University in May 2012 with a journalism/mass communication degree. I work in journalism, but I really want to work in PR for a non-profit organization. Here’s my story.
I started college in August of 2008, right before the economy tanked. I was a journalism/mass communication major. I had big dreams of being a reporter in New York City because I was supposed to. I think. I knew I wanted to write, and I knew I wanted to help people. Being a member of the “fourth estate” seemed like a great way to do just that.
I went to St. Bonaventure University, a small school whose journalism program packed a big punch and graduated successful writers like Dan Barry (New York Times), John Hanchette (Gannett) and a few other Pulitzer winners. I was in good hands.
I joined the student newspaper, and I eventually moved up the ranks from a staff writer, to an assistant editor, to a section editor (features!), to editor-in-chief.
I don’t know if anyone has told you this, but journalism is an exhausting field. You’re never really off, and god forbid that news breaks while you’re sleeping or in class or otherwise preoccupied. I forfeited a normal college life for the newspaper. I decided I didn’t really want to pursue journalism as a career, so I started taking classes in public relations and looking for PR internships.
I eventually landed a good one during my junior year. I spent the summer as an intern in public relations for the University of Rochester Medical Center’s children’s hospital. It was fun, even though I was mostly writing about sick kids. It made me love non-profit organizations. I decided that non-profit PR was worth pursuing. I could still do some good in the world with this path.
During my junior year, I had also been accepted into my school’s integrated marketing communications Master’s program. I lasted a semester before I decided the program was mostly geared toward marketing for a corporation and wasn’t for me.
So, instead of getting my Master’s degree, I graduated in May of 2012 with my Bachelors’ and continued the job hunt. I took a few days off to sleep, then I spent most of my days searching and applying for jobs. I mostly looked in my area, NYC and Boston. Then I widened my search to include D.C., Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida, Seattle, anywhere. I was increasingly frustrated. I still refer to the summer of 2012 as the “lost summer.”
I landed a few interviews in June, but nothing really came to fruition with those. I started freelancing for the newspaper conglomerate I work for now. I started working full time in October.
Looking for a job in this economy is really, really awful. At least, it was for me. Even though I visited my college’s career center before graduation, I felt lost when I started looking for a job. I didn’t know how to write a stand-out cover letter, and I wasn’t the best at interviewing because I’m really awkward at first. I have the work experience, but I lacked the confidence.
I think that’s what my current reporting job has given me. I have no problem talking to total strangers and asking them questions. I’ve been able to develop good, working relationships with local government officials because I see them often. My job is physically and emotionally exhausting, but it’s given me a little more confidence going forward in my search for a job I really love.
I also think it’s incredibly important to keep your skills up in your desired field. During my “lost summer,” I started a blog so I could write frequently, I tried teaching myself HTML and SEO, and I looked for freelancing opportunities. I kept my social media profiles active and professional.
Most importantly, don’t give up. You’ll find a job that makes you feel fulfilled. It’s hard to get, but it’s definitely easier than finding a unicorn.