It was reading week 2009, but no matter how much reading, or not reading, I did, I couldn’t seem to find the answer to the one question everyone kept asking me:
I could usually evade them by asserting that I planned to pull a Peter Pan and simply never “grow up,” but that was only a temporary solution. I was halfway through my liberal arts undergrad and had no idea what I was going to do when it was over.
Making decisions had never been my strong suit. In fact, I had chosen to go into McMaster University’s Arts and Science program purely because it didn’t force me to choose a specific area of interest. I kept studying anything and everything in the hopes that something would eventually strike my fancy, and yet, two and a half years in, I only seemed to be crossing things off of my list of potential careers rather than adding to it.
Since I slept through biology, I put my medical school aspirations to bed. I tanked my logic class making law school a completely irrational goal. I liked film studies, but only because I got to eat popcorn in class. The typical “listen to your heart” type advice worked better when I was deciding what pizza to order than what to do with my future – my heart wanted pepperoni but the answers stopped there.
I desperately wanted to be someone who loved what they do, but so far, I hadn’t found it. And then I realized; the one thing that I did both in school and for fun was writing.
But could I do this as a legitimate profession?
To test the waters, I started volunteering my pen to various on-campus publications and TalentEgg. In addition to school and work, it helped me realize my growing passion for the media – and confirmed that I had enough talent to pursue it, although I had a lot to learn.
The program not only gave me a crash course in reporting, it also opened a secret side entrance into Toronto’s media intern opportunities. Each week, the administration e-mailed out lists of journalism internships (paid and unpaid) that were available in Toronto, almost like my own personal Media Job Search Canada.
Even if you weren’t able to work during the school year, Ryerson was intent on getting you through that door. My program therefore required a six-week-long internship at a news organization. But unlike my prior media internship endeavors, this time, I had help.
It felt like a typical Aladdin-genie situation; ask and you shall receive. A faculty representative sat down with each student and asked which media outlets they wanted to intern at. It wasn’t a guarantee that you’d get a job, but the school’s connections would get you past reception.
A few months ago, I couldn’t even get organizations to send me a rejection letter, but now with the school’s name to back me up, I was applying to media internships that I had only ever dreamed of working – and getting interviews.
As a result, two short years after I spent my reading week pondering my life’s direction, I started my internship at the Globe and Mail. More on that later.