I learned the power of networking this summer, while I was working as a copy editor at The Globe and Mail’s quiet Toronto headquarters five nights a week.
I’d just graduated from Carleton University’s journalism program and I felt incredibly important to be trusted with ensuring the Globe was accurate and error-free. I was getting paid to browse the dictionary and read the news before anyone else – I loved going to work.
As the internship neared its end in August, management announced two new copy editing contracts. I applied but didn’t get either position.
My face fell when my boss told me, but he said a new paper “in town” was launching soon, and I should get in touch because he knows the editor-in-chief. I wrote the editor an e-mail to ask if she had any work, but she replied to say she had nothing.
With nothing else on the employment horizon, I thought about what to do come September. I decided to head home to Vancouver for a while, and then come back to Toronto eventually to look for work. I’d be more motivated here than on my mom’s couch.
I’d buy a one-way ticket home, spend a few weeks chilling out and seeing friends – I could even pop down to Mexico to visit a pal there – and then fly back to Toronto at some unspecified later date. It was a great plan. I felt relieved that I’d get to relax after a summer with few breaks, although part of me feared I wouldn’t find anything once I returned to Toronto and I’d struggle to pay rent. Ultimately, I brushed the thought aside and excitedly set about booking a flight.
But two days before I was set to leave on that one-way ticket, I got a rather frantic message on my voicemail. It was the editor-in-chief from that new paper, Jodi.
She said they had done a few test runs to put the paper together and there was no way she could to do it by herself as originally planned. Was I available?
I called her back right away. She told me I would be copy editing, the job starts at 5 a.m. because the paper hits the streets in the afternoon, and she could only offer me a one-month contract. One more thing: I had to let her know ASAP because they were launching their first issue on Tuesday. It was Saturday. I told her I needed to think about it, hung up and lay sprawled across my bed staring at the ceiling.
At first, I felt exhilarated that this job has basically landed in my lap. I had the chance to get in on the ground floor of what could possibly become Toronto’s next big publication. On the other hand, waking up for 5 a.m. sounded unpleasant, and I had been so looking forward to going home. If I accepted this job, it meant no family, no break, no Mexico.
I called my mom and she told me I would be crazy to pass it up. It would be terrific experience working in a small newsroom and getting a lot more journalistic responsibility. So, I called Jodi back and told her I was in.
I’ve been at t.o.night newspaper for two months now. I’m the deputy editor, in charge of picking stories for the entertainment and gossip sections, editing and writing headlines for the entire 16-page paper, and handling our freelance writers and columnists.
I have learned that no matter where you think you’re going tomorrow, something can come along today to take you elsewhere. I thought I was going to be out of work this fall, but I kept networking and followed up on every contact I came across.
Though I’m not sure I’ll ever feel lucky that I start work at 5 a.m. every day, I do feel lucky that those efforts paid off.