The silence before the storm

Graphic by Phil Waheed
Graphic by Phil Waheed

I recently watched an interview with Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of X PRIZE Foundation, who was very optimistic about the near future.

Diamandis, whose company manages public competitions in an effort to encourage technological development, was talking about the evolution of technology and how advances in various fields were going to transform our society into a quasi-utopia. Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re a millionaire whose business endeavours are associated with technology and space-related organizations.

After the interview I was led to question my own future. What’s in store for me, the guy who has a week left in his graduate diploma in journalism? The guy who has no job prospects, student loans to repay and most importantly, no business ties to Peter Diamandis?

After a brief alcoholic interlude, I needed some advice. I came across a TED Talk by Larry Smith, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo. His talk was entitled “Why you will fail to have a great career.”

As you can deduce from the title, it sends a pretty ominous message. He starts off with: “Those trying to have good careers are going to fail because really good jobs are now disappearing.” Great jobs, according to him, are even more unattainable, and he’s probably right.

I won’t lie: I’m looking for a great job. I have some high aspirations, but I’m also realistic. In journalism, just like in many other fields, you often have to start with an entry-level job and work your way up. You have to put in your time just like other people have done, and are currently doing.

I wish it were that easy, though. The prospect of finding a job right now is slim, especially in Montreal where the English market is restricted. Economic uncertainty means you may find something part-time, but you’ll be living off Kraft Dinner and boxes of wine. You’re more likely to come across a Siberian tiger in Verdun than a decent entry-level position.

So, within all this confusion and turmoil, my future looks far more nebulous than ever. It’s not easy staying positive these days, when internship and job opportunities are few and far in between. I don’t want to settle for a job outside of my field because then I’ll be depressed about all the work I’ve just done to get this far.

The key, says Larry Smith in his talk, is passion. The reason why people stop looking for great jobs when they’ve found a good one? Lack of passion. As soon as I heard that sentence I felt better.

A late bloomer, I started this program as a 29-year-old. I always knew I wanted to go into journalism, but my time at Concordia is the first real taste of it. I’ve had many interests over the years: some healthier than others. Passion, however, is another beast altogether. It far surpasses mere interest or even enthusiasm for something: it represents a fascination on a completely different level.

Despite the obstacles I will face in a few weeks, my passion for the craft is keeping me optimistic. Aspiring journalists are about to enter an age of technological advances the likes we’ve never seen (Diamandis is right about that), and there’s always going to be a need for good storytellers. I have a clear objective of what I want to accomplish: while I’ll gladly accept some surprises and bumps along the way, at least I’ll be going in the right direction.

I’m not banking on luck to give me what I need, but rather commitment: applying to as many organizations as possible, until something turns up. Thankfully I’m pretty stubborn. I may not find something right away, but determination will lead me to what I’m looking for. Passion means doing this day after day after day.

Smith says, “Why settle for interesting, when you can have amazing?” Because I am passionate, I am suddenly not as worried anymore.

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