What’s my age again?

by azaleon

College students are complex creatures.

They embrace unpredictability while being shielded by an overarching routine. There’s no telling what will happen on any given Friday night, but by Monday, college kids are thrown back into a plan for graduation. It’s comforting to have that kind of stability. It’s comforting to know that earning certain grades in certain courses will lead to a certain degree. You put money in the machine, press a button and a soda pops out. Easy.

If only the world of journalism careers was that simple.

The evolving digital landscape of sports media has altered –if not completely demolished- any resemblance of a career ladder for print/online reporters. Journalists fresh out of college with two or three internships under their belts have landed high-profile jobs covering big-time teams on more than one occasion in the last few years.

And who could blame those employers?

If I’m a sports editor with a tight budget in need of a journalist comfortable with online methods not old enough to be in middle school, why not take a chance on a recent grad? This isn’t a criticism on that approach. Those folks who get the big break early are deserving, talented and work their tails off.

This is some therapy for the rest of us.

I think some young sports journalists, myself included, lose sight of what it means to be 23 and two years out of college.

We see the personnel moves happening in this industry and are unsure about where we are, where we should be and where we’re going. There’s a pressure to have it all figured out and constantly move up. Patience? Please, this generation is hell-bent on becoming successful.

But who knows what the road to success looks like? Does working for a newspaper put you behind in the long-term? How long is too long to be on a specific beat?

I would suggest only worrying about one’s self, but that’s near impossible. If you ever look at Twitter, Facebook or message boards, the sports writer transaction report is there, unavoidable.

Maybe the key to figuring it all out is in personal well-being. How do you feel in the moments after waking up? I think that says a lot.

Understanding what’s important in life and what brings happiness is a process in itself. Early on, some young professionals don’t know what those priorities are, so the main goal becomes making it to one of the big places, by default. And there’s nothing wrong with ambition, chasing a dream and working hard to get it. That’s what we’re indoctrinated to do. You’re supposed to  pay your dues and make the best of a not-so-great situation.

But how much should be sacrificed and for how long? Sometimes I think about the young go-getter finally reaching that dream job with heavy bags under their eyes after 15+ years of endurance. Would it be worth it?

Without a roadmap to show where one choice takes you, it can be hard to know what to do. It’s not like college where an advisor can say which classes lead to a degree. It’s not a simple as putting in your money and getting a soda.

It’s a scary, exciting and new time in this industry and I don’t think anybody -whether it is media conglomerate executives or recent grads- has it all  figured out.

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