Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sometimes you need to look back before looking forward: What you can learn from a raw rookie

Those of us who have spent any amount of time in the business have been there.

There are days when a career you should love becomes a job you hate. Days when a manager who would have trouble spelling "IQ" tries to tell you what you're doing wrong. Days when you drive home through Podunk and wonder what the hell you're doing in the middle of nowhere.

On those days, you don't look up the ladder, you look down. Not forward, but back.

Even major market newsrooms have a few rookies right out of school, even if they're just running the prompter. Check them out sometime. The starry-eyed look, the ever-present smile, the energy level that is chomping at the bit to take the world by storm.

Yeah, we all used to be that way.

Think back to your first day in the business. You had just gotten a glamour job. You were on television, with the power to reach thousands and the chance to make the world a better place. You didn't have to work for a living like your college friends who were stuck in an office watching the clock.

You weren't jaded. You believed the world was a nice place, that politicians you supported were actually telling the truth. You had rose colored glasses in designer frames.

Remember those days? How you couldn't wait to get to work? Couldn't wait to tell your friends about your day?

Several years ago we hired a young reporter who fit the above description. She was going to be the ultimate team player, even saying she would never complain as she was incredibly grateful to have a job.

Two months later she was the source of all the drama and negativity in the newsroom.

It's hard to retain the raw energy and excitement you have during those first days in the business, but you have to try. These days, it might be the only thing that can get you through the rough patches we all endure.

Look back before you look forward. Remember why you got into the business and how you felt when you did. Then maybe your day might be a little better and you can get out and change the world as you originally intended.

Make today another "first day" of your career.



Anonymous said...

I'm actually one of these raw rookies looking to break into the business come graduation. Working as an intern for a station currently, do you have any advice? I just started reading your blog after one of the reporters suggested it today. You seem to be a seasoned veteran who a young "rook" can learn a ton from...

-The Grape said...

The best thing you can do is be a sponge... soak up all the knowledge you can. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Have the attitude that you don't know anything and have much to learn.

Too many young people come right out of college with the attitude that they know everything and everyone else is old and stupid.

When you ask for someone's help and opinion, you're flattering that person. So ask as many questions as you can.

The fact that you're asking for help now tells me you're on the right track.