Thursday, August 27, 2009

a time for impracticality

After almost two years of constant career-priming, it's about time for a semester off.

School started again, and despite my seemingly crazy ambitions, I'm glad to be taking some time off from my journalism studies: I'm taking mostly philosophy and law classes this semester. The first week has been a rough transition. My background in communications doesn't translate well to the more abstract thought of the great philosophers, and I find myself out-paced by all the poli sci and philosophy majors that I usually loath (but that's another issue entirely).

It's a time to rethink my priorities and take a breather from the career-treadmill I've been running. I love studying law and philosophy because, so far as I can see, at no other point in my life will I have time and support required to think about such vast and far-reaching ideas. The depth of thought and discussion I can reach in class is the antithesis to my "more practical" internships and skill-studies. Perhaps this semester will bring me back from the brink, instilling a good balance in my education. I can only hope.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

dying industries

My girlfriend and I are both entering into "dying industries," or so she tells me. (This has the potential to become a great contest, re: my industry will last longer than yours.)

Really, they are the same industry split into specialties, with discrete distinctions that, beyond targeted experience and expertise, could easily be seen as singular. We both love — and study — writing and the print industry: me journalism, her publishing/editing. Often times I feel more pragmatic about the industry's difficulties. I'm trying to make myself flexible, dedicated and as open as possible to change. My girlfriend usually expresses her hatred for publishing's grim-reapers — Google Books, Amazon, and the Kindle — while bemoaning the trend away from ornately designed book covers and to generic omni-devices (though she loves her iPhone). But she's doing things to diversify as well — any novelty turned to advantage once school ends.

Yet, I don't feel like I'm entering a dying industry. The same doom-preaching chorus relaying the trials of the industry today (my j-school professors at ASU) now sits in a completely new university building, filled with the latest technology and creative minds. If there was ever a place to innovate and save the bottom line, it would be there. And while I've seen countless "goodbye-and-good-luck" e-mails at work, their authors usually seem poised to carry on elsewhere. So many mind-blowing projects are emerging from web designers, journalists and innovators, why has so much fear promulgated? The fear comes from economic uncertainty. Corporations and organizations have lost their Earth-turning profits, and thus, the industry is dying.

But what is an "industry," and why am I entering it in the first place? I'm not discounting the need for profits, but pushing past monetary motivations to the real spirit of why we do what we do — love for what we do — breeds a lot of optimism in me. If "industry" requires profits, perhaps I don't need it. I've no stock holders to appease, no board to satisfy. Halfway through college and embroiled in your-future discussions, concepts like "the industry" seem an unnecessary middleman to my main concern: me and doing what I love. Instead of singing odes to a dying industry, we should be consciously carving out our own space in, not an industry, but a living, however and with whomever we can.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

summer could have been more restful

What can you expect from a summer internship? After working for the past nine weeks, I'd say a either lot or a little, depending on how you look at it.

For me, it's been a tedious tenure at Washington Post Digital — editing photos, writing photo captions, and attempting construct massive databases that, frankly, I doubt will be implemented. In short, the work wasn't too rewarding. And all for no pay; my validation is a inconspicuous byline that even I overlook most of the time. Such is the life of an intern, and after a particularly trying day, after a particularly trying week, it's easy to feel taken advantage of.

On the other hand, maybe things aren't that bad. After all, internships are always temporary, and when I think back on how I could have spent my summer, to live and work in Washington D.C. definitely trumps the alternatives. I can't say I've learned much from a technical or journalistic outlook; the things I've picked up fall more under the "real-world-experience" category, re: full-time job, managing bosses, taking care of myself (i.e. not partying until 3 a.m. the night before work ... again ... ). The program I took here, The Washington Center, provided a lot of cool events and experiences, so I don't regret my time here. Things have just been too hectic.

What I find most frustrating in every internship has nothing to do with the internship itself, but rather the pairing of a work and school schedule. The two never overlap cohesively, and neither boss nor professor seems to understand (or care) I have more going on with my life. Especially while I'm sitting at work, I'm always thinking of school work that needs doing, and vice versa. Its a classic scenario of work during the day, school at night and sleep in between — though never enough.

If this is supposed to build character and ambition, I expect to be supernaturally motivated and interesting when I graduate. Right now, I'm just tired.