I signed up to be a mentor at my alma mater.
I am not really inspiring enough to be a mentor, but I figured it might be fun. I am supposed to offer advice and support to new grads.
The first e-mail arrived today. They would like me to submit a bio and photo (fortunately, I have one that was just taken the other day!) and my responses to these questions:
- What advice have you been given that you've never forgotten?
- What do you think is the King's difference?
- What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
- Who or what had a major influence on your life?
- What advice would you give to someone graduating from King's today?
This might be more serious than I thought it would be. I am supposed to come up with someone who influenced me? And it's supposed to be impressive, I'm sure.
1. I only accept advice from this website. And I never forget it.
2. Okay, I'll be serious. King's is different, for sure. I have a friendly rivalry with a friend of mine who went to Carleton, but I really do think King's is the best journalism school in Canada. It's really small, so you get all of the personalized attention you need. I was one of four people in my class who graduated with the same specialization I did. All four of us got jobs right away with CBC, but we were all definitely indebted to our radio professor for going to bat for us. Within nine months, three of us had permanent jobs with CBC North. (All three have since left the MotherCorp. The fourth is a reporter for CBC Calgary.)
3. I wish I knew that marketable skills were the key to getting a job. Well, I knew this, but it's the difference between knowing and understanding. King's does two things really well: journalism and interdisciplinary liberal arts. While you're there, it's easy to get sucked into deep philosophical discussions that only lead to larger student loans. There's a place for that, but it's not the working world. I have a mortgage and a family: I'll take marketable skills any day.
4. Moving north really affected me. The Canadian Arctic is an incredible place, and I think it's a great place to start out as a journalist. (It's a great place to continue or finish your career, too.) However, nothing affected me more than becoming a mother. After Michael was born, I quit my job at the MotherCorp. I'm still a writer -- I use the skills I learned at King's every day -- but I'm no longer a journalist.
5. The way to be successful as a writer is to do whatever you do really well. For example, Amber MacArthur was in my graduating class. At that time, online journalism wasn't even close to being what it is now, but she was excited about it and she's now very successful. This sounds like really trite "be true to yourself" advice, but it's really true. You have to figure out what you're really good at and then carve out a job for yourself. If you can establish yourself as the best in your field, there will always be work for you.