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It’s the Slash in Me


When you’re a senior in college, you can’t evade the question. It’s asked at the dinner table, at every family reunion and even via text message.

But the absolute worst experience has to be while getting a teeth cleaning in the dentist chair over winter break. I was reclined, with my mouth full of tools, when the hygienist politely asked THE question. It wasn’t the prying or the flossing that paralyzed me from answering – it was the question itself. Because in four months I will graduate… with a journalism degree.

“So what do you plan to do after you graduate?”

The problem isn’t that I don’t have a career path, but that my answers just won’t make sense to my baby boomer relative, my high school speech coach or the friendly hygienist. What am I supposed to say?

“Hi, I’m Abbey and I want to be a multimedia journalist-slash-marketing specialist-slash-social media strategist-slash-political guru-slash-blogger extraordinaire.”

That won’t quite fit on a business card or come out in one breath.

I could mold my answer to the recent job postings I’ve come across:

“Oh hello, I have a degree in broadcast journalism, but all of the current openings require me to be a skilled ‘producer/video journalist/web writer/bureau chief/live truck-op/fill-in anchor-but-only-when-I-teleprompt-at-the-same-time/media person.’”

It’s not that I can’t do all of those things, because I can, and I am happy to do them. But with that answer people may look at me like I’m not sane, let alone able to handle employment.

I have deemed this disorder “the dilemma of the slash.” These days it’s hard to find an opening without the prominent ” / ” – constantly reminding journalists that one skill is never enough. Sure you can report, but what else? Symptoms of the slash are commonly found in recent graduates who realize the job they set out to do is actually 5 positions combined into 1 confusingly worded job post that makes it impossible to describe over Christmas dinner.

Give me 3 items and I can show you what I want to do after graduation. With my camera, my computer and my iPhone, I can shoot something, edit it on my laptop, tweet it while the file is exporting, and blog about it after posting it to the web.

Just don’t ask me what that “something” is yet. Especially in the dentist chair. Because the drool spilling out of my mouth won’t be worth the answer I don’t have. And rather than waste your time with explaining all of that, I’ll just tell you this.

“The job I want to do doesn’t exist yet.”

Thank goodness teeth cleanings only happen twice a year.

Job posting images courtesy

5 Comments for this entry

January 31st, 2011 on 6:34 pm

The poignancy of this article is astounding for our entire class. And probably just as so for the entire generation. The shape of the world of journalism is changing so rapidly it seems as though we’re needed to be just as dynamic as the world wide web itself. I think it truly is a dilemma but it’s also very cool that we are the class of dynamism and versatility. The feelings swirling at the back of our mind are outlined very smoothly in this well-written article!

    January 31st, 2011 on 6:51 pm

    Thanks for your comments Ryan!

    I think the challenge of versatility is one that our generation is both excited and anxious to meet. And I couldn’t agree more that the class of 2011 is in the perfect position to meet that challenge – no matter what the expectation may be.

April 22nd, 2011 on 10:11 am

Hey Abbey,

I really like this, you seem ambitious which is quality that I really apricate. It is a chalenge to be a journalist today since (at least in Serbia where i am) it’s paid bad, unless if you are a reporter or you’re working for some bigger television. But isn’t it always like this? If you are good in something you have better work place and you’re paid better what ever you’ve choosed to be/work…

May 5th, 2011 on 6:36 pm

Abs, I reaaly liked the conclusion, which is a healthy perspective on what the future job market will be: a state of flux, constantly evolving, static, not dynamic…open-minded resiliency will be paramount!

And i like the ‘slash’ reference as well. My Dad enjoyed sharing an anonymous poem called “The Dash” ; the closing queried about that little mark between the years of your birth and death, and “what did YOU do with your dash???

Good stuff girl.

Victoria Shirley
October 13th, 2011 on 7:11 pm

Loved this post. I think the job world of slashes is perfect for control freaks. I definitely am looking forward to shooting, editing, reporting all of my own stuff myself, that way someone else won’t screw it up! But your right it is hard to explain to people that aren’t used to it!