20something profile: Esha
It was really just luck that brought me to journalism in college. Perusing through the catalog at New York University, I stopped at journalism only because I thought the word looked interesting.
Now that I’ve just graduated in May, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
As a student at NYU, I concentrated in broadcast journalism with a double major in economics. I always had an urge to be onstage, having played piano in front of large audiences, sung in a choir, and acted in school musicals. This was the perfect way to channel that urge into an exciting and rapidly changing field.
I’ve interned at media companies like ABC, Crain, Us Weekly, and Channel Thirteen. I took a college job as an A/V assistant for three years. I’ve become skilled at catching trains while sweating in high heels. But I never stopped working.
I’ve learned a lot about everything in the process. That’s the great thing about being a journalist; you have to be a jack of all trades. After all the research is done, you always come out more knowledgeable about something new.
Like many creative fields, it’s not easy making money as a journalist. But I never really wanted a career just for the money. Why couldn’t I mix work and play? Even so, it’s easy to fall into a slump. I’ve gone through huge periods of rejection thinking, I’m never going to get to be what I want to be.
So I do it myself. I write for free to build my portfolio. I create a website for my work. I drag my poor boyfriend-turned-cameraman around to help me film b-roll and interviews for pieces I want to do just for fun. Maybe someone will see it and like it. So I just keep creating.
I am employed now at Channel Thirteen but only because I put a lot of effort into freelancing, working, and interning as much as I could — pay or no pay. That’s how I built my network.
It sucks to not have money, for sure. In this economy it’s hard for 20-somethings, down on their luck, to stay motivated and do things for free. So there’s nothing wrong with taking that job that you don’t really like but that pays the bills.
But it’s what you do in your free time that matters. When you finally get the chance to interview or meet with the boss at your dream job, they’re going to ask what you’ve been doing with your life that’s relevant to their industry. How would it feel to have nothing to say?
All that being said, there’s no one way to get to where you want to be. When I started my double major in economics, it was at the suggestion of my parents. But now I realize that it separates me from the pack. Any time I tell someone about my double major, their head turns because, yes, it is an unusual combination. But to be unusual is to my advantage.
There is a tried-and-true way to reach my goal: start off as a production assistant, get to associate producer, maybe succeed in landing a general assignment reporter at a network news affiliate in a sleepy town, and then work my way up to a national audience.
But my dad always tells me: if you follow the beaten path, there’s always going to be someone above you who thinks they know better (and they probably do) and will never get out of your way.
With my economics degree, I know I can stand out. I can be that person in the newsroom that knows the deal about China’s economy or the U.S. Federal Reserve better than anyone. I can use my expertise to rise up the ranks in a different way.
Eventually I want to go back to school and get my Master’s in a subject like International Relations because while I never want to stop creating, I also never want to stop learning. After all, I’m still a kid (according to my mom). I don’t know everything just yet.