Everyone’s a writer. Or so it seems these days with all the blogs and gossip and news sites. Communication and journalism degrees are still being sought after by college students… but why?
Recently CareerCast.com, a career website, ranked 200 jobs from best to worst based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. To compile its list, the firm primarily used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies.
Guess which job came in last?
According to the study, newspaper reporter bumped last year’s loser, lumberjack up a few notches.
And do you know why? Everyone these days thinks they can write…and they can, but not sentences that sing. To report on real issues that make readers think or angry or laugh out loud, that takes a professional writer.
But writing jobs are disappearing faster than affordable homes in San Diego.
If you’re still one of those people who want to pursue your passion of the written word there are still jobs out there – you just need to know where to look. Start with journalismjobs.com
First of all, if you need to buy food, don’t work for E-How or E-Lance or About.com. They pay pennies. If you have student loans you need to charge people for your words – so don’t write for free.
Blogging is a nice way to get your creative juices flowing, but most bloggers don’t make any money. Bloggers must be marketing and advertising experts if they want to get paid.
Freelancing is a great gig, if you can make enough contacts, find editors who feel they can count on you, and have the stomach to wait for the paycheck to land in the mailbox.
Forget the big city newspapers. For the most part they’re not hiring, and if you were to be hired you would probably just last long enough to get your first byline.
Instead, head to New York City or Washington D.C. and work for the publishing industry, for a big public relations firm, or on the Hill.
The Hill (thehill.com) is a D.C.-based newspaper that reports about all things political. They also have a great jobs section where you are likely to find PR jobs from think tanks, non-profits, and actual politicians. If you want to be a speechwriter or a PR wonk for an actual politician, it’s best to network and or basically write your congressmen and ask if there are any openings.
About 10 years ago, Ciaran Clayton, a University of San Diego grad was an intern at a North County weekly newspaper as well as at San Diego Magazine. She moved to D.C. still in her 20’s and garnered a temporary gig. She then rose up to work for a congressman and then a U.S. Senator. She now is a director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s communications and external affairs department and is a pretty big deal. And she is still writing for a living.
New York also has more opportunities for writers to be diverse. Magazines that dish out beauty tips, car repair ideas and construction news. Some of these jobs can be found at mastheads.com
Emily Oakley graduated from San Diego State in 2008 with a communications degree. She worked, and quickly burned out, working in a San Diego public relations firm. She quit and headed to New York.
“A lot of my friends got jobs in non-profits writing for great causes, and that’s what I thought might happen for me,” she said. “’It took a year of waiting tables, but I finally became a full-time script doctor working on Broadway plays. Talk about living the dream.”
Writing for insurance or law magazines might not sound very exciting, but it’s still journalism, and you can work on the great American novel on your commute, or your day off.
Universities and colleges are still occasionally hiring journalists to help students run the school newspaper or write grants or be communication directors of different departments. If you can get in with a top-notch school the job is pretty much yours for life- much like professors and grad students.
In 1984, Dr. Egon Spengler uttered the famous line, “Print is dead.” But that was a movie. Print is still a viable job choice if you have the patience, tenacity, and craft to make it your career.