Graduating with a BA in Philosophy (Canada) in April. Job search help
January 10, 2013 12:53 PM   Subscribe

A few days ago I went to see my local Career Advisor at school. She said I was miles ahead of every other humanities grad as I have 15 months of work experience. She told me to contact various guilds and organizations in my area...

I got thrown under the bus at the freebie weekly I was working at, however I'll probably get my job back in the summer (12K a year woo!) due to personal changes.
I'm currently writing for a magazine (read by 1-3K people) and an online publication. I'm constantly sending out pitches and connecting with people I used to work with.
A few days ago I went to see my local Career Advisor at school. She said I was miles ahead of every other humanities grad as I have 15 months of work experience. She told me to contact various guilds and organizations in my area (I have, a coffee meeting with my local PR guild representative is being set up) and to hit my network. (I have. However, the company is restructuring and I have to call back in Feb.)

She told me to get business cards, the job market in my city is great and to tailor my resume for the various marketing/comm/pr/advertising jobs at the uni job fair that is being held next week. She said to have a mental script ready (this is who I am, this is what I can do for you and here is my portfolio) along with 4 different tailored resumes for the various positions I want to apply for.

In addition to all this, I should research the 20-30 companies that are hiring in the positions I want and be ready to ask pertinent questions to them and have answers ready for them when they enquire about me.

Is she blowing smoke up my ass, or am I A OK. She told me I should get a job by April as I'm starting my job search now and I have work experience.

If all fails, I'm heading to my local college for a communications degree (they have a high job placement rate).

In addition to all this, I just received a paying job at a new online pub. I only get ~$20 a month for 4-5 articles. Should I ask for more, or should I stick with it as they are a new publication?

I've never gotten below 10 cents a word, but that's a print rate. I've never been paid for online writing. It's funny. Everyone says online is the future, but the money is still in print.
posted by GiveUpNed to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like your career advisor has given you good advice. Nobody here can predict whether you will actually get a job by April, you'll just have to take the reasonable steps she outlined and see.

Is your real question the one about rates for online writing?
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:13 PM on January 10, 2013

Well, you're as good as you're going to get. She's not blowing smoke, she's told you what you need to do to prepare to land one of the jobs at your school's job fair. She's right about the tailored resumes, each one emphasizing a skill and experience set.

Your little jobs sound interesting, but that's no way to make a living. Be prepared to come in as a dogsbody and to work like crazy in your first post-graduation job. PR, Marketing and Advertizing are extremely hard to get into, will work you and grind you like anything, and you'll either love it or you won't.

Frankly, the major of Philosophy isn't really a job grabber. But it may interest the creative types you are interested in working for however, so long as you can back it up with practical, real-world experience.

It seems like you would have minored, or at least taken a ton of coursework in Marketing or Business to compliment the incredibly whiffy sounding Philosophy, especially if you want to go into those industries.

As for print vs online. I...I...I can't even get into that. Print is dead.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2013

Response by poster: It's a bit of both. I'm getting $22 a month for 4 articles. Print isn't dead, however, only niche publications survive. All of the pubs I write for have 8-12 staff and have been entrenched in their positions for years. They make money, but it's only enough to pay their staff, freelancers and rent.
posted by GiveUpNed at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2013

What city are you in?

As well, it would be interesting to track the graduates of the communications program at the local college, and see where they are ending up.

My guess (and this is only a guess) is that you are in a larger city like Toronto or Vancouver, and these comms grads are getting work as junior communications officers for a health authority or public corporation of some kind.

If you can figure out where they are getting hired, it would be wise to phone up the hiring manager (typically a communications director) NOW, since the staffing cycle can take a few months.

In my experience, traditional PR companies are in trouble. If it's not measurable, no one wants it, so firms that used to specialize in print or physical display advertising are really, really hurting.

But Toronto is the center of the universe in Canada, so there may be opportunities.

Don't listen to people who say you can't do PR with a philosophy degree. While it's true that some hiring managers would prefer to see somebody come out of a comms program, writing a news release and creating a comms plan is not fucking rocket science.

If this is what you want to do, figure out what skills are needed for the job, and find out a way to get those skills on your resume pronto.

In the end, it's going to take a lot of phone calls, a lot of tact figuring out the right way to make those phone calls, and some perseverance.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:32 PM on January 10, 2013

As always in Canada, Black Press is a good place to establish your career as a writer.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:33 PM on January 10, 2013

Response by poster: I'm in the Prairies. Glacier Media is top dog here. Black Press doesn't own any papers here.
posted by GiveUpNed at 2:36 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't think that we can answer your likelihood to be hired (we don't have the data as to job availability in your niche area and in your region of the world, etc.). But I do think that if you follow your career advisor's suggestions that you will be in good shape.

A couple small suggestions if you are open to them:

• In addition to researching the 20 to 30 companies that are hiring in the positions that you want ...don't stop there and reach out to at least a few of your dream companies/employers, even if they have no job listings. I've gotten projects by sending off emails like this and I have a friend who has called companies that have interested him and he has gotten job offers this way. Even if you don't get call back from the dream companies this round, sometimes a company will call back a year or two later, and it may coincide with a time that you are looking for a job.

• If you are contacting guilds/organizations/networks, if possible, have people who either hire people in your position or have your dream job position review your resume (not to get hired by them but to get their input and modify your resume). Some places use recruiters or HR people who may not know what terms mean, but they are looking for hot key terms. Also ask these people if they have recommendations for anything else that you can do to make yourself a desirable job candidate in the next few months and if it is feasible, do that (even if you don't need it to get this job, it is likely to help you in the next job).

Now for your "Is this an okay rate?" question.

If I understand correctly, you already have clips and a few years worth of experience, right? If you are going to freelance/do small jobs occasionally, I would start to turn around the way that you view this. (If you did not yet have clips, then I would say go for it).

Companies may tell you "We are working on fumes, there are 20 billion other writers out there, you need to work for $5 an hour."

OP, turn it around. What are you worth? What was your training worth? Do you have any special niches/areas of expertise (if not, can you get them). The same way that there are 20 billion writers out there, there are many, many companies out there. You don't need to be confined to your local city. You don't even need to be confined to your country. Develop an area of expertise and a desired rated (within reason), but one that pays for your livelihood if that is what you are planning to use that for.

So if someone tells you $5 an hour, because there are many, many other companies out there that also pay and pay better, then go look for them. It doesn't matter if it is for an app, on the internet, or print; it costs money to develop content. Spend the extra hour of your time to find a few companies who will pay your rate.

From what you have stated, I think that your time (and time is money) would be better spent researching companies, refining your job material, going after the skills and jobs that you want. You will make up the $ aspect later.

Unless there is some reason that you want (or need) to do this; that is okay, too, but start to hold on to the idea that your time is worth something, too.
posted by Wolfster at 3:08 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

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