Gerald Ball writes an honest view as he enters the final stages of his degree in Journalism, where uncertainty is stronger than ever.
As a 23 year old final year DCU Journalism student, I should be looking forward to and envisaging what media career role I hope to capture when I finish my degree in 2017. Maybe I aspire to become part of The Irish Times’ team? The Independent? Or, perhaps, I’ll resist the urge to work for the famous duo of print publications and try my hand at becoming a reporter at a prominent online website such an thejournal.ie? As someone who has a simply insatiable appetite with both writing and news, any of the above options greatly appeal to me. However, why then am I strongly considering a career change in the form of a conversion business Master’s degree? It’s simple; I seem to be siding with employability over enthusiasm – and that’s a dangerous path to follow.
I’ve always had a special relationship with the English language and literature in general. When I was a mere 6 years old, I had read a myriad of Roald Dahl’s beautifully crafted children’s books. From 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' to 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' – I loved every single one. Even as a writer of children’s novels, Dahl took full advantage of the English language’s most delightfully pleasing feature when story-telling; the abundance of synonyms to make one’s point. One would be correct to ask the question; why not study an English literature course given my apparent love for the language? It’s a fair question, and if not for my equally insatiable news appetite, I would have. However, I believed that studying journalism offered me the best possible platform to actively pursue my two greatest interests; writing and news. So, having secured my spot in DCU’s Journalism degree, I was all set and prepared to embark on a three-year course that would best prepare me to become a journalist. I tried hard, but I find myself doubting whether I actually want to be a journalist anymore – and the reasons why I have these self-doubts are utterly depressing.
What could possibly have made me less certain about becoming a journalist? It’s simple; employability. I’ve had it continuously drilled into me that aspiring journalists who are fresh out of university may well struggle to gain employment and subsequently make a living due to the harsh employment climate that we live in. Now, I’ve always known that journalism was a competitive field and when you couple this with the recent recession and how journalism is constantly seeking ways to make its entire business model profitable, it was never going to be easy.
However, I’m 23 now and the days of working gruelling part-time shifts in various dead-end jobs have come to an end. So I’m left with a burning question. Do I persevere and trust my journalistic portfolio to land me an entry-level job, in the hopes that I can progress and eventually, as is my aspiration, work for a national print publication? Or conversely, should I partake in a Business Management course that may well prove more employable upon completion than my soon to-be journalism degree, even though I hold little love for the intricacies of business management? So, ultimately it’s a question of love vs employability – and I’m leaning towards the latter.
In many ways, the fault lies solely with me. I seem to be doubting my ability to get stuck in and simply write my way to the top. I’m sure lots of my classmates will become accomplished journalists and, lest anyone forget, journalism is a fantastic industry that has the most honourable of goals; it acts as the public’s watchdog when dealing with the elites of the world. It’s a romanticised take on journalism, and even though it’s not always possible to do so, everyone can agree that without journalism; where would we be?
As I enter the final stages of my degree, I’ll give it everything I’ve got to obtain that elusive first-class honour. If not, I’m hopeful of at least being capable of getting a 2:1 degree. After that, I just don’t know.
My love-affair with journalism hasn’t been dampened. In actual fact, when you see what transpired over in the United States with Trump’s victory and his excessive media-bashing, my eagerness to become a journalist has only increased. However, I’m also a realist and my primary concern as I enter the true final stages of adulthood is my ability to gain full-time employment as quickly as possible. In such a case, am I willing to give up my aspirations of becoming a journalist in an effort to do so? Whilst I’m not entirely sure right now, there’s a very definite chance that I am. And that saddens me.