Can’t Find A Journalism Job? Branch Out

Positivity Cup

Staying optimistic about your job prospects isn’t always easy (Pic: Amy Dicketts)

By Amy Dicketts (@amydicks)

If you’re a student or recent graduate reading this post, chances are you’re whiling away your summer in a hot office somewhere, working for free in the hope of securing that elusive goal: a job in journalism.

I was in the same position last year; the only person eating a packed lunch in Canary Wharf, trying to save pennies while pursuing my dream role. It’s not much fun is it? But working for free shouldn’t be the only way of getting in to journalism – and it isn’t.

By the time I was offered my first job after graduation – as a community manager – I was over the moon, even though it wasn’t a journo job. It was paid and it was permanent and when you’re fresh out of university and feeling battered and bruised by the job market that’s all you care about. Taking the job meant leaving an unpaid internship at a magazine. Some people might say that I should have stuck it out if I was really committed to a career as a journo, but I think that branching out was the best decision I ever made.

A community manager is literally a manager of a brand’s community. For me it means managing and moderating a forum-based community and maintaining and growing a fairly substantial Twitter account. This might seem like a step in the wrong direction for someone who wanted a career in print, but as journalism becomes increasingly digital it is no longer enough to simply be able to write. A cursory glance at job listings proves this.

A Junior editorial assistant at the Huffington Post, for example, now needs to be able to build pages, seek out viral stories and drive social media traffic, as well as produce top quality content. Taking a step away from journalism might well give you the chance to add these extra strings to your bow, making you a much more attractive candidate.

Don’t see it as a move away from journalism but as a detour around working for free. People shouldn’t be expected to work for nothing in the vain hope that it might one day pay off. Taking a creative job in a different industry is just another, fairer way to gain the necessary skills to secure your ideal role.

It could also give you the opportunity to see what else you want to do. Brands are hiring communicators in a big way. From charities to councils, businesses are now seeking socially-savvy people who can get their message out to people in an engaging and effective manner. Writing for a publication is no longer the only way to communicate with people.

Will you miss writing? Probably. I used to, so to counter this I started up two blogs, commuteblog.co.uk and yngldn.blogspot.co.uk, to provide a creative outlet and to teach myself a bit more about different forms of online publishing. Freelancing will always be another means to getting your work out there, if you are willing to put in the hours outside of a full time job. It’s not always easy to balance it all, but it can pay off hugely in the long run.

The one thing to remember is this: there is no single ‘right’ path to securing your dream job. If you put in the work and keep your goal in mind, there’s no reason at all that you can’t get there in the end.

Have you ever been tempted to take a different path to reach your end goal? Or are you doing that now? Have your say by tweeting us @JournoGrads or commenting on our Facebook page.

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