You Can Be a Writer, Part III: Strap on Your Job-Helmet

 

This is the third part of a series, check out Part I and Part II before you read this one.

“Oh, get a job? Just get a job? Why don’t I strap on my job helmet and squeeze into a job cannon and fire off into Job Land, where jobs grow on … Jobbies!” – Charlie Kelly, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

There’s something I wish I could tell everyone about to enter the workforce. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself too. That lesson is:

The process of finding a job you love can sometimes feel hopeless, but if you want it and work at it, it will happen. 

Every day, high school and college grads across the country discover that careers aren’t handed out to you, no matter how impressive your GPA is or how smart you are. Finding this out after graduating from an expensive four-year school with a head full of dreams can be quite a shock, to say the least.

The fact is, getting hired relies on both smarts and experience, and job market tends to favor the latter. Depending on what kind of writing you’d like to do, a traditional four-year college may not make sense for you, but almost any job will want to see proof of your potential. In the case of writing jobs, your potential is represented by one important thing—your writing portfolio.

Building your portfolio

This advice will sound familiar. To build your portfolio, you have to write. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Use your education. High school and college offer a plethora of writing opportunities. Take advantage of them! If you want to be a journalist, make sure you’re writing for your college’s newspaper. Want to be a playwright? Talk to your drama teacher. Yearn to write novels? Submit to your school’s literary magazine. If your school doesn’t have one, create one. A collection of work, showing your improvement over the years, can be a huge help in landing a job interview.
  • Do some freelancing. Full-time writing jobs can be tricky to snag, but luckily, freelance writing gigs are all over the place. It’s gotten easier too: you don’t even have to be on the same continent as the place you work for! Check job sites, sign up for places like Fiverr, email the companies you love and ask if you can contribute. If you’re in high school or college, you have more freedom, since you probably don’t need to get paid for your writing, although it’d be great. Even Craigslist has freelance writing opportunities (although you should take care to make sure these are legit!). Freelancing can help build your portfolio in no time.
  • If no one hires you to write, write anyway. This may sound weird, but I’ve seen it work. If you can’t score a freelance writing gig, even unpaid, write something regardless. When employers ask for writing samples, anything is better than nothing, and if they read your writing and see you have potential and the willingness to work hard, they may give you a chance to show them what you’re made of.

Bottom Line: Expect some rejection, but don’t get discouraged. Your favorite writers were rejected dozens, even hundreds, of times before they became the wordsmiths you know and love today. The only difference between them and everyone else is some talent, some inspiration and the willingness to keep going when others gave up.

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