The question is…


The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

Another great job interview that didn’t pan out. Since that interview, I’ve sent out a host of other email applications and did not follow up on the one job that was (and is still) available – waiting tables during Race Week. The Editorial Open Day at Bristol for Immediate Media was very eye-opening in the sense that it drove in how journalists’ roles have changed from news gatherer to news curator.

You could have a team of 3 doing everything from designing to editing to writing a 150 page monthly magazine. Why? Because 70% of the content is sourced from freelancers. I met people who had started out in a stitching magazine, did some stints in science and music (not together) publications and then ended up leading the publishing direction of several wedding titles. For the lover of long form investigative reporting, the outlook seems kind of bleak. But then! I realised I was looking in the wrong places.

When your visa allows 20 hours work per week and your classes are smack in the middle of the week (effectively splitting it), employers tend to pass over your applications. And no way in hell am I skipping class, when there are already so few. But damn do I miss the hum and drum of waking up early, getting into formal work wear and settling into my own desk to type out some press releases and interviews. It’s not the same freelancing from home. Believe me, I tried. Work clothes or no, you cannot really get into the groove without colleagues to chat with over coffee and your bed three feet away.

So why apply to local papers that only want all-around curators and compilers? Why not market yourself to specialist publications? I am still waiting for my business cards to arrive and it may take a few weeks yet but when they do, I have got a whole lot of stories to pitch to the environmental business title I mentioned last week. Thus, I broadened my horizons.

I got two social media officer positions with an alternative news site and a community organisation. For the former, I am simply updating their Twitter and Facebook feed daily but this also forces me to stay on top of news. Naturally, it is also another potential writing platform.

The latter is a Cheltenham-based organisation that has several community building programmes and besides updating their Facebook feed, I am also helping set up their website. AND ZOMG THIS IS EXCITING. Building my own site from scratch took long enough, but the practice I get designing theirs will definitely add “Design” to my writing skills. And there is so much sense of community, even in the one day a week that I am there. An office’s hustle and bustle is invigorating.

Another weak part of my resume is my lack of social media presence and interaction. Being social media officer certainly helps, without taking up too much of my study time. Also I am creating things, yo. A website. A fully-functioning website with real life ramifications on the community it serves. My heart. It tingles.

Hm, what next? Why, SEO of course! As a freelance writer, the extent of my SEO knowledge is keyword density that I have to be mindful of when writing travel blogs or how-to articles on a variety of subjects. This is bound to expand as one of my freelance clients  (who does SEO marketing for US and UK companies) was looking for a social media manager-cum-writer and I’ll be it March 1 onwards. It’s all exciting as I learn the ins and outs of social media, while getting paid working from home. And the best part? Since I have to be Skyping at a certain time every other day of the week (some time difference, but who cares really) with the client, I can count this as part of a media placement.

Not only does this pay (Digression: I am SO disappointed that in the UK, unpaid internships/placements are the norm. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) but I will be getting journalistic work into the bargain. I have already sent off interview questions and requirements to several companies, pitched stories to a dozen or so online publications in the UK and US, and received positive replies from 3.

One is a magazine spread. When it is published I will scream and breathe and scream again and breathe and then post it here. And these are all business specialist news outlets. So. Much as I want to move away from business, I find myself attracted to it and sniffing out more stories from BBC News business than the main sections.

To top it off, I have actually made ties with the community – South West businesses to be exact. It may take a while, but if and when I start to do more local-centric features, these organisations are and will be extremely useful. The communication managers are equal parts enthusiastic and helpful. All I need to do is find an angle, and keep chasing until I get that UK byline. At this point, it is a matter of pride – not that I want to stay after graduating or even go back, or ply my trade in a war-torn country, I haven’t decided anything yet – to get myself published and paid writing something I researched on my own (not just curated from Wikihow or Buzzfeed) in the UK.

Only time will tell if SEO/ social media is for me, but right now it is super exhilarating, it complements my college work and damn is my brain on fire! It’s so tiring yet so good. I simply cannot wait for that byline. Now, to work on my thesis and journalistic feature.

I started with an Ayn Rand quote because the woman is the light of my life. No, I don’t think her theories should be adopted wholesale but I also don’t think her ideas have been appreciated well enough. Her works were fiction, but Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden and Gail Wynand are all very real to me. Oh yes people have used parts of Atlas Shrugged to highlight’s Rand’s criticism of any government aid to business or even minimum wage.

But many do not remember that Hank Rearden had a waiting list of workers ready to join his company, they had no union but they were paid above industry standards. And most of all, they took pride in their work. The same goes for Gail Wynand. I actually cried when Rand described the scene of Gail staying up late at night all alone in his office churning out the next day’s paper. Which few read at that point. But it did not matter. It was a point of pride.

Without pride, without ego, what do we have? I generally mix in liberal circles (what with being a minority and all) but am naturally drawn to those with ambition, those who continue to produce, and those tend to be found in business circles, and there are so many Dagny Taggarts and Hank Reardens (ugh don’t talk to me about Howard Roark or Francisco d’Anconia) I have met in the business world carving their way in the world, keeping their heads down, and at the same time, caring and rewarding people who work and produce with them.

Ambition is sexy. And scarce. But when I do find it, hell yeah am I hanging on. I’ll end this with a Wynand quote:

“What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands.”

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