Saturday, January 23, 2010


I've been thinking a lot lately. About my wedding and my relationships with my friends, and yes, even about how hilarious the new Big Bang Theory is. But what is ALWAYS in the back of my mind, simmering back there with the money issues and how much I want a dog, is what I want to do with my life. Every once in a while, it boils over and floods my brain with such extreme worry that it borders on anxiety, my shoulders tense up without me realizing it and suddenly I can't sleep at night, whether I'm being kept up by my thoughts or having vivid, distracting and disturbing dreams.
That's how my week has been.
It's not that I hate my job. If I get right down to it, I am thankful for my job. My schedule is such that I never rush to work. I work during the hours that I am naturally most awake and I get to flex creative muscles by designing pages and writing headlines. And I get paid and have benefits. I think I'd be in worse shape if I didn't have these factors in my favor.
But I still feel lost. I'm not doing what I always thought I'd be doing (writing) and I just feel like something is missing. I don't dislike my coworkers, but I'm not friends with any of them. And, I suppose, I don't feel like what I'm doing makes any meaningful difference.
All this comes together to make me consider abandoning journalism for a different field. I discovered a Web site where you can search for openings at nonprofits, and many of these organizations need people with my set of skills to come and widen their exposure to the public. I am beginning to feel that old excitement, of contemplating the possibility of changing my life for the better. I spend 8 hours a day at the workplace, I need to justify those hours doing something that I believe in. It's sad, but I have finally admitted to myself that I just don't believe in journalism anymore.


  1. Before you make the jump into nonprofits (because it is quite a jump... and I know you're likely to think things through quite a bit before jumping anyway), my biggest recommendation is to find one that you're interested in locally and see if you can volunteer some time. Not only do they need people with your skill sets to work, but they could use some volunteers because many of them don't have the money to pay you.

    Also, this is a great way to network yourself into the nonprofit realm. From my year w/ RIS I learned that the vast majority of hiring w/in the sector is about who they know, and not who walks in with a pretty resume. If you volunteer just a few hours a week where you can, you'll set yourself up beautifully to make that transition. Not to mention- you'll be able to determine if that's the way you want to go.

    Non profits are constantly struggling (unless they are nationally established, like the Red Cross) with the threat of closing due to a lack of money, especially in this economy. There may not be a lot of job security (again, depending on where you go) and the paychecks aren't pretty. However, anyone who has worked with them can and will tell you that it quickly becomes more about what you do and who you're helping, and not about the paycheck at the end of the day.

    I support the idea! (Go figure, right?) And I know that you'd be a great addition to the field. Just be sure to look before you leap, and get some research.


  2. Thanks for the advice. I already volunteer for a nonprofit (SPCA ring a bell? <3) and have two reliable people there who would put in a good word as far as my commitment and skills go (one is the volunteer coordinator, the other is the public relations wizard). I also have spoken to Ellen at length about her experience there and she has the same complaints you outline, but also agrees with you on the tradeoff (i.e. helping others is more important than the paycheck).
    In the end, I still have the final goal of becoming a professor, so I was thinking about jumping into nonprofit for a year or two, and then moving directly to masters/phd and then figuring it out from there. Unless I happen to fall madly in love with nonprofit, I wouldn't need longterm stability. The Human Society if hiring an online editor to work in MD...that's what got me considering the field.
    Did I mention Americorps has no openings for people my age in Maryland? Or, at least I will be out of the age bracket they list in July. *sigh*

  3. argh this whole having to type in a word after you try to post to prove you aren't spam is very annoying i typed this great thing out and clicked out before confirming. grr. ANYWAY

    I did not forget about the SPCA, and that's a great volunteer experience that you've had for a long time. I was just thinking that it'd be good to volunteer for something more job-specific than a direct service (ie: doing more work with web design/ publications and less with the puppies themselves. although you have done the pet finder thing.)

    it's also great that you have the 2 people you can use as references for the Human Society job. Give it a shot, you can always turn down the offer if it turns out to not be right.

    Also, as for AmeriCorps, it would depend on which opportunity you were looking at as the age restrictions. NCCC is for 24 and under, VISTA is for 18+ (no max), and the state/national programs vary. The trick with AmeriCorps is that it can be difficult to find a position you'd like, where you want to be, when you want it. Some of us get lucky, and some of us fight through it the whole way.