Dr. Randall Hansen is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home page of The Career Doctor.
If you have any career- or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue (11/02/01):
- High school grad wants to break into journalism – without going to college
- High school senior needs direction for college – and beyond
- Community college grad searching for career direction
- Downsized bank employee considers attending college for first time
|Q:|| Rosetta writes: I just graduated high school in June and everybody is saying I should go to college; you know I got the grades in high school I was in tons of extra curricular activities. And now it’s fall and people are like “so will you be starting school in January” and when I say I don’t know or maybe people look at me like I’ve already failed at life and should just go stand in the middle of a busy intersection.
The thing is I really want to get into journalism because I like to relate through writing but I am sure I do not want to sit in a classroom. How can I show local newspapers that I am capable of at least learning under someone. You know an apprentice gig? Or are there any short courses I could take? Please don’t say I have to sit in a room for 4 years.
Thanx do respond soon!!
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: People look at you funny Rosetta because while college is not for everyone the value of a college education is monumental — in many different ways. And especially in a field such a journalism college is really essential.
Most studies show a deepening income gap between people with just a high school diploma and those with a college education — and especially with women. But it’s not just earning power; it is also how people will perceive you and judge you. Read more in a new article by my partner Katharine Hansen: What Good is a College Education Anyway?
That said can you get a job — or apprenticeship — in journalism without a college education? Perhaps. Did you write for your high school paper? Did you take a journalism class in high school? Do you have some high-quality samples of your work and writing abilities?
Given my experiences here are the things you need to do to try and get a job.
First you should develop a professional portfolio of your writing samples resume story ideas and other documents. You can find more information by reading my article: Your Job Skills Portfolio: Giving You an Edge in the Marketplace.
Second you need to develop a list of smaller newspapers (probably weekly community papers) in your area. If you are not limited geographically focus on a region that has a large population base and numerous companies — thus supporting multiple newspapers. Larger newspapers may have more opportunities but most (if not all) of those will go to college students and college grads. Take advantage of all key job-search strategies including cold-calling and networking.
Third be prepared for the fact that most of these papers may have part-time “stringer” positions only’meaning that while you are proving your journalistic skills and abilities you will probably need another job — or some other form of income to pay your bills.
Fourth if you have little success don’t give up. Keep writing keep checking back with the newspapers and keep looking for alternative sources for your writing. And if you really love journalism do some investigating of the top journalism schools and consider going to college – in the long run you will be MUCH better off with a college degree than without one.
|Q:|| Lance writes: I am a senior in high school. I am trying to sort of plan out my future in college and career. I would like to know if you could please give me some advice. I have always had the dream of being a corporate lawyer but my strongest skills are in mathematics and science.
I have taken career interest tests and they answer that law is the career for me but will I be successful? I also have interest in business management. My main question is what undergrad courses would be most beneficial to take if planning to become a corporate lawyer and what strong skills would be required for that field. I would greatly appreciate any information you may have concerning my questions. I sincerely thank you for time.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Lance the most important thing is that you are doing all you need to do. You are looking ahead to continuing your education through undergraduate college to graduate school and you are taking the time to ask experts their opinions’
I’m going to give you my advice — based on years of talking to students law faculty and lawyers — but I also suggest that you look at your personal network and see if you can meet with a corporate lawyer or two and conduct informational interviews with them. Solicite their advice about majors minors law school and law careers.
My best advice for you is to seek a multidisciplinary education focusing your studies in business communications (oral and written communications) economics math and information technology. Students who are planning to attend law school to become corporate lawyers often major in business administration or accounting. The reason you want a well-rounded education is because there is much more to being an attorney than the law. You should choose courses that will help you develop proficiencies in writing and speaking reading researching analyzing and logical thinking.
And while it is still early you can also start doing research on the top law schools for corporate law — and once you develop such a list go to each school’s Website (or catalog) and see the courses they recommend to best prepare you for law school — and for a career in law.
By taking advantage of all this advice you should be well on your way to a successful undergraduate career’even if at some point you decide to put off being a corporate lawyer for a while and pursue something else — you’ll have the skills to go in any direction you desire.
|Q:|| Nancy writes: I live in Dallas TX and just graduated from Brookhaven Collage last semester. I have an Associates Degree in Science but I do not know where to go from here.
Can you please advise? I need to choose a collage major. I am hoping to go to a university next semester but I do not know what I would like to study. I need to discover my ideal career. Where should I start?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Where should you start? By reading my article Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. Here’s a basic outline of the steps you should take in beginning your journey to discovering one or more potential majors.
The first stop on your journey should be an examination or self-assessment of your interests. What classes did you like at Brookhaven? What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
The second stop on your journey is an examination of your abilities. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What kind of skills do you have? What classes did you excel in at Brookhaven?
The third stop on your journey involves examining what you value. Examples of values include: helping society working under pressure group affiliation stability security status pacing working alone or with groups and many others.
The fourth stop on your journey is career exploration. Spend some time exploring various occupations and determine if one or more of them matches your skills and interests — and gets you excited.
Finally make sure you also spend some time with the career services folks either at Brookhaven or at whatever university you attend next semester’besides being great people they also have more cool tests and techniques for helping you along your journey of self-discovery.
Best of luck with your journey — it’s an exciting time for you’just don’t stress out about your decision too much.
|Q:|| Stephanie writes: I am a former bank employee of seven years. I was a recently laid off as part of a bank merger.
I have been unemployed for five months now and having a terrible time finding a job. I do not have a college education and I feel that is what is holding me back. Employers want my experience in banking but also want me to have a Bachelor’s Degree.
So at twenty-eight years old I am debating on enrolling in college. But am I too old? By the time I graduate I will be in my thirties. Will employers wonder what took me so long? And honestly I climbed the corporate ladder at my previous job so quickly I did not think I needed a degree.
My other question is what should I go to school for? Did the banking industry interest me? Not really. It was the constant ciaos that had me hooked. It was being in charge of thirty people with thirty different personalities and a hundred different problems everyday. I have never been faced with such a dilemma and for the first time I don’t know what to do.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You have a number of issues you need to think about and resolve before you can make your decision about attending college. But I can tell you one thing Stephanie you are by no means too old to enroll — and excel — in college. In fact older students often make much better students than traditional college-aged students.
Here are some of the things I think you need to think about carefully as you work toward a decision about college.
First can you afford to go to college? I assume you have things such as rent and car payments along with other expenses. Can you develop a plan – a combination of financial aid scholarships and a part-time job – that will give you enough financial freedom to pay your current bills as well as college tuition? Find some resources in the college planning resources section of Quintessential Careers.
Second what do you want to study in college? Don’t just jump into college without a plan. You’ve done the first step in eliminating at least one thing you don’t want to study — while also identifying the type of work environment you enjoy. Now spend some time matching up your other skills and interests with various careers. I suggest you go to the career assessment tools section of Quintessential Careers.
Third do you really need to go to college — or do you want to go? While many companies do hire employees without a college degree there is often a point where you can’t get any farther up the ladder with the degree. Keep in mind too that it is often the degree the matters more than what you study so keep your focus on the prize.
Fourth are you using college as an escape from the job market? It’s a tough economy right now and jobs are definitely harder to find but this situation should only play a very small role in your decision about attending college.
Best of luck in arriving at your final decision.