College Blog: Welcome to the (very scary) real world

The terrifying realities of finding a job, and paying for school

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The College Blog is a partnership between City Newspaper and Rochester Institute of Technology Assistant Professor Dr. Hinda Mandell. Each week City will post blog posts from several of Mandell's journalism students, who will write about what concerns Rochester-area college students, both on and off campus.

Over the course of the next six months, a number of students will be leaving the comforts of college and heading into the working world.

Some will go straight to the job they have lined up in some big city somewhere. Others will be moving back in with their parents and trying to figure out their next move. Whichever path they take, students will all be facing the same dilemma: Learning to live in the real world.

"At college, you're on your own and you can do what you want," Renee Noel, a fourth-year graphic design student at RIT. "However, you still have your parents to reach out to and get help if you need it."

Noel plans to finish her coursework in February and walk at graduation in May. With a recent job offer designing for Story Worldwide in New York City, Noel doesn't have to worry about the gruesome job hunt that many other students will soon have to face.

"I think it is hard [for students to get a job], but the more students try the easier it is," said Jenna Deutsch, another RIT student.

Deutsch will be working as a Junior Interactive Program Manager at SapientNitro in Boston after she graduates in May with her Bachelors in Communications. Deutsch and Noel may be on the right track for their future, but career woes still hover like a dark cloud over the heads of many a college student.

And I include myself within this group of college-age kids with an uncertain future.

At the end of winter quarter - this February - I will be leaving school and moving back home for good. Even though I'm only a sophomore in college.

The decision to leave college, at least for the time being, is all mine. As you know, college is breathtakingly expensive. And I also reached a point that perhaps my university is not the best fit for me.  Ultimately, I came to a place where I realized that college just isn't my bag. I can't learn everything that I want to learn sitting in a classroom. I learn so much better when I can actually dig my hands in and get to work.

But still, the thought of trying to make it in the real world once I get back to my native state of Washington terrifies me.

As a journalist and photographer, I know how competitive the industry is. And as optimistic about my future as I may be, I still have to think realistically. If I want to get a job doing what I love to do, I will have to work extremely hard to do it. Especially without a college degree.

Lately, I've already been trying to engage in lots of networking. I've sent out my resume to even the smallest of small newspapers. I've even followed as many journalists and photographers as I can on Twitter in hopes that they'll follow me back and check out my work.

This industry is about as competitive as it gets, but I am nowhere near ready to give up on it.

Maybe I'll just take advice of Deutsch, an RIT student graduating in May.

"Aim high. You could end up at your dream job," said Deutsch.

Here's to hoping.

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