My English teacher told me in high school that I probably would not make a living at all as a poet, though pithy words on paper sprang like a primal spring out of me. That was the day I purposed to go into journalism, the left-sided sister of poetry. All I knew in my heart of hearts was that words on paper was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. How was I going to get it done? What I did not know was what I did not know. The one skill everybody will use after formal classroom days are done is seeking: mining sources for information on which to base the decisions we make in life.
Upon graduating from high school, unlike Malia Obama, I went straight into university intending to grow my embryonic career through acquiring the explicit skills necessary to become a professional writer. I considered Columbia Journalism School because the place is literally enmeshed in the publishing industry. Back then, before I knew anything about networking, I had an inkling that whatever profession you wanted to be into, it was a good idea to be where its denizens were rife. I was a quiet, dreamy soul who thought I was channeling Ida B. Wells. I had no idea what becoming a professional journalist meant in real terms except from television and radio. I had no idea what people like Barbara Walters suffered as a woman in journalism. Back then, blacks in journalism were almost unheard of. I had serious knowledge gaps and I had to fill them myself.
The nearest and dearest do not always make the best sources of information. Nobody warned me away or opposed my burying myself in researching best journalism schools on the east coast. Nobody I ever heard of in my neighborhood ever escaped “the ‘hood”to become anything other than homemakers, teachers or preachers. Education and the gospel ministry were good, solid professions. Broadway, The Washington Post and NBC were not. My Sunday school teacher told me point blank that the theatrical stage was not a good career choice for a Christian young lady. My high school guidance counselors never suspected that the newspapers and broadcasting was behind all that “looking it up”. They probably just figured I was just being my personality test-perfect bookish self. Perhaps they were thinking to recommend to my parents that I be submitted to therapy to treat my introversion.
Did I go to journalism school? Yes, but not to Columbia. One of the reasons for this “fail” was not having information enough to make a strong case before my parents.
New professionals; dearest readers, information rules.One of the skills any new grad will use most often after formal classroom is this: where and how to access and extract needed information from the mounds of information dug up. You will use this information to make the billions of little decisions every day such as where to work, political affiliation, diet, personal style, and how to create a life.