This is Me

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Are You Working Right Now?

Last week I was asked to be on an alumni panel for a sophomore seminar at my alma mater.

At first I was shocked.

Am I that type of adult now? The type of adult who serves on alumni panels? Who is looked at as having expertise in my industry?

When did that happen? Last I checked I was still struggling and in the same poorly paying job I was two years ago.

Aren't alumni panels full of 50 year-old gray-haired men with pot-bellies who tell you how to succeed?

"Okay, quit trippin'!" I tell myself.

Just because I'm not making 6 figures does not mean I am not doing well and can't offer advice to those coming after me. I may not be getting paid much but what I have learned is immeasurable. Yeah, I know - that sounded cliche. But it's true.

So I say yes and a woman from the Office of Alumni Services calls me. One of the first things she asks me is "Are you working right now?"

As crazy as that question may sound to the outside world, people in my field know exactly what that's about.

Some of my younger professors in school weren't professors because they loved to teach. It was actually the opposite.

They were professors because the market for our industry sucks and they couldn't find a job. We're not in demand like nurses or teachers. (Well, we are in demand in the fact that no one can do what we do, but you know.... we're not respected like the aforementioned careers.)

In the television industry, getting your foot in the door is one of the hardest things to do. Even after you get your foot in the door you may or may not be able to get your foot in ANOTHER door.

In this field, sometimes you spend long periods of time without a job, so you constantly redesign your resume to see if this "keyword" or "key phrase" makes you stand out more than the ones you were previously using.

Anyone in any job knows about sprucing up your resume by exaggerating your job descriptions juuuuust a little bit.

Designers and the like do their sprucing up using words like "freelance."

All you have to do is say to someone at an art museum "The imagery in this painting is stunning" or to someone at Kinko's "I like the design of your business cards" and BOOM! you're a freelance design consultant!

Shoot. For the loooong year I was looking for work after graduating I used that "freelance" keyword, too. I redesigned my church's program (on my own - didn't even give it to them) and I was quick to list "freelance designer for local church" on my resume! LOLOL

But seriously, it's hard out here (for a pimp).

And the salaries for entry level? Cashiers at Wal-Mart make around the same.

A colleague of mine once said "Broadcast designers don't get any respect because the bosses think you type in a few things and the computer creates the graphics."

And he was so right.

Those who say who makes what are the ones who think that anybody can do my job.

Design school is expensive. Design software is expensive. And yet I could be scanning and bagging your groceries and making the same salary.

As discouraged as I used to be, I know that God does not want me to struggle. He does not want me making pennies for the rest of my life. I have been obedient and faithful and now that I'm older and more mature, looking back I can see what God was doing and what He is GOING to do.

I never would have been able to get this type of experience anywhere else. At a bigger company I wouldn't have had all the responsibility I do here and I sure wouldn't have been a supervisor in a short amount of time.

So okay. I'll be on an alumni panel and give the young'uns some wisdom beyond their years. I'll be their beacon. Their light in a sea of employment darkness. I'll be their hope when there isn't any. I'll be their rainbow after the storm. I'll be......


  • At 5:06 PM, Blogger The Movement said…

    You know you are so very right. I let my students know daily that their skills alone will not guarantee them a job when they graduate. And even if they do, expect to be scraping by until hopefully one great day someone will give them a raise or they get enough experience to get a higher paying job. It's hard. Especially when you know that without your skills or skills of people like us, all companies would be in trouble. It is time they start paying people with our skills what we deserve.



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