I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Unfortunately for me, I have to figure it out relatively soon. You see, when I was a kid, I never had that one thing that I absolutely had to be. I kinda jumped around in my head from dream job to dream job. First I wanted to be a teacher, then I wanted to be a dancer, then I wanted to be a lawyer, and by the time senior year of high school came around I decided on a journalist because it gives me the freedom to do research on a lot of different things and write about them. I've always loved writing so it seemed like the logical career path for my constantly changing interests. After three years of college and many journalism classes, I'm not so sure if I made the right decision anymore.
Let's start with the obvious and inevitable: print journalism is a dying industry. With the speed and ease at which the Internet delivers news, printed newspapers and magazines are struggling at best. Although I may love to pick up a newspaper and read it and turn the actual pages and smell the fresh ink on the crisp paper, my love for printed media is not enough to save the industry. It makes sense - the Internet can deliver breaking news to anyone in any place on the planet in a matter of seconds with the click of a button. Advertisers love it because everyone is constantly online and they reach greater audiences on the web than they do in print. I get it. Just because I get it though, doesn't mean I have to like it. But I've talked about all this in an earlier post - so let's move on because I absolutely hate sounding like a stuck record, even if it is something that's on my mind 24/7. (Yes, that's right, even in my dreams I think about the Internet - how scary is that?)
So print media is dying. Ok. Big whoopdeedoo. That's not reason enough to say that journalism isn't for me - I mean, journalists are still needed to write the online articles and do all that good stuff, right? Well...yes and no. Thanks to wonderful sites such as this one, blogging has become huge. Anyone can be a blogger and write about whatever they want. Obviously I'm a fan or I wouldn't be sitting here right now on my lunch break rambling on and on, but it's making the profession of a journalist and the study of journalism obsolete. If anyone can write and be published online and deliver information to the masses for free, well, why pay for 4 years of college and spend all that time learning something that the rest of the world is already doing. I'm a student of journalism. I'm wicked scared about not being able to find a job in this economy to support myself. Yet, there are people who haven't gone to college to study journalism but are blogging and getting PAID to do it. So what am I really learning in college, because it seems to me that now journalism - both print and online - is just a silly thing to be studying.
Lucky for me I go to a great university with a superb School of Communication where they don't just teach you about your major, but they teach you about communications and media as a whole. Yes, you can specialize in journalism or public relations or advertising with your major, but you get a well-rounded, complete education where you leave knowing a little bit about a lot of different things. (At the same time, we are required to double major, with our second major being outside the School of Communication - the idea here being, "Well ok so you're a journalist and you can report and write, but what are you going to report and write about?" I picked International Studies, and I love it.) So in our communication classes we learn about reporting, writing, advertising, designing, photo editing, publishing, pitching, marketing, etc etc. Basically, they plan on sending us out into the real world with a strong base in COMMUNICATIONS and MEDIA RELATIONS. (For the record, this is all just my own, personal speculation - please don't quote UM on any of this.) After three years, I might not think that journalism is for me, but I know that the communications industry is. Ok. Phew. Phase one of "What I want to be when I grow up" complete. Now the hard part comes in by deciding what that means and what kind of a JOB I want.
So this brings me to my final point and the reason why I'm writing this incredibly and obnoxiously long post - is it better to be really good at one thing or decently good at a lot of different things in today's world? Employers want to hire experts in various fields, but job-seekers are encouraged to be proficient in various fields and subjects, which makes it harder to become an expert at any one thing. So what are we supposed to do? Become experts in lots of different fields? That seems really hard and I don't even have one field mastered, so maybe I'm screwed. Are we supposed to lie and say that we are Photoshop gurus when really we can just edit saturation levels on photos? That seems dumb - I'm not big on lying. Not to mention that we're young and still learning - isn't the whole point of working your way up the ladder to learn as you go? What good does it do me if I'm already at the top? If I'm already at the top, shouldn't this be easy?
Closing statement? Dear World: WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? Please get back to me at your earliest convenience as I know you are currently busy with things such as Global Warming and Wars and Resource Depletion and Poverty and Hunger and 2012 is coming up so that must be stressful too, but whenever you get a free chance and remember this little bear, please do shoot me an e-mail or give me a call. Much appreciated....