I admit that after high school back in 1994 my decision to study broadcasting (radio, specifically. A weird fascination of mine.) instead of attending a culinary academy (aka: cooking school), I probably wasn't thinking about the consequences. Of course, not being able to develop that keen sense of soothsaying also played a major factor in where I am now. Where is that? Well, at the Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library searching for a full time job and submitting applications for less-than-desired employment in order to pay bills, buy food and gas for my car and what little bit of a Christmas I can offer to loved ones. Something is better than nothing.
I have no one to blame, but myself. My professors told me, my college advisor (David R. Collins: tough, but sincere) warned me and the folks who allowed me to volunteer, intern and work-study at Morehead State University's WMKY Public Radio gave me the heads up. Nevertheless, I figured working at a job that you love, have fun with and are good at would outweigh the fact that a lucrative career in radio would probably never happen. Come on, I'm not getting into this for the money. Any veteran radio or television person will tell you that, most likely, will not happen.
Fourteen years later, I'm not necessarily regretting past decisions. I just wish I would have seen the light a little sooner, however dim it may be. And it really doesn't have anything to do with money.
Radio just hasn't been that good to me. I'm sure I deserved what I have received. You reap what you sow. At this point radio has taken me to four states, from public to commercial broadcasting and from small market to medium-ish market. I still enjoy radio, but not as much I should. I even thought that going back to school to get a graduate degree (achieved 2001) would change my attitude and/or horizons. Nope, my views haven't changed. And it isn't because of the downsizing and dwindling status of radio over the last several years nationwide. It's me. To add to that, I was recently let go from my most recent radio job.
What If I could use what radio has taught me elsewhere?
Well, I love to write, produce and edit and think that my communications background is extensive enough that I could get my foot in the door pretty much anywhere. Then again, the rough economic times have forced businesses and corporations to hire only those who have the exact qualities (i.e. experience) they need. Taking a chance on someone who has talked a good game, but doesn't have much of a case to present is on the outside looking in.
The more I examine my attempt at at career change I realize I want to be in communications. I'm good at it, I know I am. I'm not cocky, I'm just confident in my abilities. I was never one to expect to become wealthy in broadcasting. Radio allowed me to keep my head above water, that's okay, I'm a good swimmer. Unfortunately, I have been treading water too long and have grown tired.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I taken all that time I spent bugging my mom (Greatest cook I know!) in the kitchen, picking up her techniques through osmosis, and put it to work for me professionally. Would have I succeeded? Would have I been happy? Or would I still be where I am today, but wondering "What if?" about radio? What is done is done.
Cooking school could still be a possibility, but the price tag is a bit beyond my realm. And there aren't many restaurants who want to hire a 33 year old wannabe chef with no experience. Impressing friends and family in my small apartment kitchen is my current status chef status. Though I have been exploring a communications job in the food industry and have done a few restaurant reviews on my own for the place I used to work (http://www.akronnewsnow.com/). They did get plenty of views from Akron/Canton area residents, but whether they were taken seriously, I don't know.
In the meantime, as I search for full time work and work that will at least pay the bills, I have suddenly noticed that small flicker of opportunity. It is extremely hard to see. My hopes rest now on networking (I'm on http://www.linkedin.com/), setting up possible freelance opportunities (http://www.guru.com/), moving to Columbus and ignoring the sickening feeling that I took the wrong path somewhere way back when.
I'm not looking for sympathy and I'm not looking for charity, but damn, it does make me think.
For those of you who are also job searching, good luck and keep the faith. And if you need to bounce ideas off of someone who understands, don't be afraid to send me a note. We're in this together.
Unemployment is an island, but its a crowded one.