Until recently, I was dead set on becoming a journalist.
This doesn’t surprise many people. Pretty much all I do is write stuff so I guess I might as well.
Sometimes I don’t see the point. All I’m doing is writing words that people will read whilst scrolling on their phones. Maybe they’ll think nothing of it, maybe it will move them for an entire minute, or maybe they’ll actually value what I’ve written, share it everywhere and get people thinking.
Or maybe I’ll be chained to a desk my entire life, with both the words and my life seeping out of me through my fingertips onto a keyboard and leaking onto a Word document.
I sometimes don’t see the point of journalism, but then I see something like this and I’m reminded of why I’ve been pursuing journalism:
Journalism is a way of activism, it’s a way of getting important stories out there, a form of education, a form of empowerment. However, what can I write about that’s worth reading? I have no life experiences other than my own, no information beyond my school life, books and the internet, so why should I spend my life telling people things they already know?
Once I start in journalism, there will be no stopping. There will be no opportunity to work in the civil service, or try out management consulting, or take a year out to work at NGOs, pursue a startup, try my hand in the corporate world, go traveling, busk with my guitar on the streets. It’s a very dead end because once I start something like journalism, it’ll eventually be the only thing that I can do.
Right now I’ve only had journalism work experience, and some of my university extra-curriculars are pointing in that direction too, which is probably one of the reasons I was rejected when I tried to apply for internship positions outside of that field. In those moments of despair and uselessness, I really wished I could do more than just write. At that point, I felt pretty useless for just writing.
Which is why I’m extremely grateful for an upcoming internship. I start in four days and I’m working at Siemens, the multi-industry engineering and tech giant. My degree has nothing to do with engineering, or tech for that matter. However, I’ll be helping out in terms of communications, CSR and mobility, and I’ll get insights into infrastructure, tech and consumer needs.
I could use these skills to try out PR, communications, marketing or even something such as consulting in a large firm. The reason why I’m so excited about this internship is because it’s not journalism. It’s not working at a major news channel or writing for the university newspaper. It’s something different. Totally. Different.
I’ve worked myself into a bit of state because I’m nervous about this new environment. But I’ve also piled on a mountain of expectations; that this job will help me diversify my experience, that I’ll actually do things and get work done and there’ll be some fantastic intellectual perks and countless networking opportunities and hopefully I won’t be doing nothing when I graduate.
Or it could all be super boring and I’ll lose faith in myself and set off down the path of journalism.
There is an Excel document on my computer with a list of over 100 companies, some journalism related, some not. A few of the consulting programmes are going to open in less than two weeks and close by August! It’s insane! I already have to research on these roles for big-name companies and it’s already making me doubt myself and whether or not I’ll be able to take this leap into a different sphere.
And then I think, what’s the point of a corporate job anyway? You’re just making money off the backs of other people. Maybe journalism would be better. Or maybe you should just join the charity sector. There’s not much money, but at least your conscience will be free.
The more I think about this, the more I reason that what I really want is just more experience. More of a chance to try new things and experiment. I want to be able to work in a tech company and move into retail. Or take a few months off and work in NGOs in India and then travel in Australia. Or even work in a high-profile newsroom and then transfer to a news startup like BuzzFeed.
Despite my skepticism towards journalism right now, BuzzFeed would be the dream.
Right now the possibilities are endless. I’ve never really expressed my frustration at determining a career path, but what I really want are the possibilities to continue to be endless for me, for me to try out the things I’m interested in. I definitely know what I’m not interested in, but I want to try my hand at things that do interest me.
For all I know, working at a giant corporate could turn out to be an amazing personal experience or a terrible one. I might decide to pursue journalism after all, because despite the regret at not being able to try other things, I still do love writing, researching and learning.
I’m starting to see this summer as a launchpad. I could apply to the list of companies on that painstakingly formatted Excel document, and either reach somewhere or be extremely depressed by the beginning of term 2 of my third and final year at university.
I don’t know where I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing, but if I really want the possibilities to be endless then I’ll need to start planning now. Rather than not knowing what I want to do and then doing nothing about it, I need to do everything I can about it and see where I’m headed.
It’s going to be a long road ahead and I will have to hustle harder than ever, but I’m hopeful that this summer and my final year at university will be fruitful in terms of learning about what I want to do and who I want to be.
Here I go again, adding to the mountain of expectations.