As 2015 drew to a close, so did my second internship, but after 4 years of working as a journalist, it has felt like a lifetime of being treated like a rookie.
Even though I was treated and paid like a novice, I worked just as hard and as long as everyone else and that is what taught me the following things.
1. Networking is King: Half the job is about your ability to write, film or photograph. The rest is about who you can call at crunch time. Whether it is for comment on a story or for studio space after a location mix-up right before a shoot, a noteworthy and up-to-date contact book is essential to your survival. So is making enough of an impression that people remember who you are and what you are capable of. Remember, you can do this without an over-the-top personality.
2. WHAT you know matters just as much: You can have all the connections in the world but if you lack the talent to do the job, it will come back to bite you in the ass at some point. When it comes down to it
, WHO you know will not help to prove WHAT you know how to do.
3. Despite a large network, not everyone is your friend: You can have someone’s number and speak to them on a regular basis but that does not make them your friend, especially in this industry. Neither does a follow back. I have come across many people who refer to Farah Fortune as a friend just because they have her on some or other social media platform. Farah doesn’t play like that and neither should you.
4. People will assume: About EVERYTHING – that doesn’t make it true so do not let it phase you. And unless said people are responsible for your salary/employment, what they think about you should not matter.
5. People will sell you dreams just to get you to work for free: Exposure is great for building your portfolio but you can’t deposit it into an ABSA account before your debit orders go off. The catch 22 is that you need all the experience you can get but, being a human is expensive. There are ways around the exposure trap.
6. Just like exposure, free things will also not pay the bills: I get so disappointed when I see grown ass journalists geeking about things like goodie bags, event tickets and gift vouchers. Granted, the job doesn’t always pay much but once you’ve been in the industry for a few years, free things at that level should no longer excite you. Neither should an open bar. By all means, enjoy it, but don’t be that guy or girl when you were sent there to work.
7. People will stunt on you with empty achievements: Celebrating little victories may be a thing but acting like you’re on Bonang’s level just because you spoke on the V-Entertainment mic at an event is wack. The same goes for the ambiguous “you guys will be sorry when I make it” posts. What happens in vagueness stays in vagueness and as such, you shouldn’t feel bad or compare yourself to your peers. After all, it’s not like they will ever let you see their struggles.
8. Very few people really support what you do: I’ve personally noticed that I often get more likes on a selfie than I do on an article. AND that people rarely ever acknowledge that they read your stuff unless they want to complain about it. It is therefore up to you to know you’re the shit and rely solely on your certainty for validation.
9. The same people will still get mad about any move you make: People do not like to think you’re doing better than them, and that sometimes, unfortunately includes your friends. Truth is, they don’t want to see you succeed and any sign of that will mean salty looks, back-handed compliments and people acting like they down-right just didn’t see it. You’ve just got to keep it moving.
10. Passion is essential: It is simple – when you no longer care, the quality of your work will suffer and you are only as good as your last piece of work in this business. Never forget why you chose this life (even though it sometimes feels like it chose you) and you will be unstoppable.
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @mediagirl_za