Thinking Journalism? Think again.

It’s a seemingly innocuous question, but it’s always filled me with dread. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I don’t know. I don’t want to grow up.

I’ve never been good at math and the pictures in my P.T.-student sister’s textbooks turned me off of the medical fields. Law school was too long (though I wouldn’t mind being a student forever, there were no sponsors stepping up to fund it.) So when my mother suggested technical writing and even went so far as to enroll me in Baruch College’s business journalism program, I had no objections.

Technical writing was an ideal choice for many reasons, not the least of which was that it was easily transferable to Israel, where I hoped to relocate. A growing field, technical writing offered competitive salaries, interesting work and hopefully, the chance to work part-time or from home. A technical writer my mother worked with suggested a degree in business journalism as a good way to break into the field.

Of course, nothing turned out quite the way I expected. I got the degree but discovered that most technical writing jobs require years of experience and/or technical skills and know-how that I lack.

In the age of online media and diminishing attention spans, journalism is not exactly a thriving field, at least as far as compensation is concerned. To say that job offers were scarce is an understatement.

It worked out in the end nonetheless. My job at Kars for Kids is ideal in many ways: it’s local, the work environment is nice, and it’s rewarding- in a “nonprofit” sense, if you know what I mean. I consider myself fortunate to have a full-time, salaried position as a writer. Freelancing is just so not my style.

So when I met a girl the other day who was considering getting a degree in journalism, I have to admit that I didn’t sound terribly enthusiastic about the idea. What would you have told her?


About the Author
Rivka Kirwan is the director of media relations at Kars4Kids, a nonprofit based in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband and two young children. If it were up to her, she'd be living in Israel, which she grew to love in the year she spent there post-high school.