Monday, November 15, 2004

My Love of Blogging Is Matched Only By...

When I graduated from college in the early 1990s, the country was in a mild recession. I moved to Minneapolis without a job and mooched off some friends for a couple of weeks while I looked. I had a BA in Russian language and some vague newspaper experience, which didn't get me much of anywhere I wanted to go, which was into journalism.

One of the friends, Louise (not her real name -- well, not her real FIRST name), was also looking for some kind of editorial or writing job. We spent a lot of time sending out cover letters and resumes to pretty much every publication in the Upper Midwest. We bought the solemnly colored resume paper with appropriately mature weight. We carefully padded our resumes, thinking we were the only ones who knew that "oversaw a staff of 15" really meant "wondering where to get enough money to buy the beer for the next party for 15" and "coached beginning and advanced writers" meant "yelled at the freshman who thought a deadline meant 'when I feel like it.'"

There were few jobs out there, and the ones that were there required some experience. So we sent a lot of cold letters out there, like ill-prepared Arctic explorers, never to be heard from again. The resume books all said to "customize" your letters, to "craft" your resume to fit the publication. After awhile, that just felt silly.

I think it was Louise who came up with the magic phrase. It was a sentence that said, "Hey, I can't be bothered to even look at a copy of your magazine, but I'm hoping maybe to get lucky anyway." It said, "You and I both know that this is going nowhere, but maybe you'll take pity on me." It said, "I am lying through my damn teeth, but I can do it with correct grammar, and I show up promptly at 7:30 a.m."

After slathering it on about how much we loved journalism and how it was our calling and how we worshipped at the altar of the serial comma (or not, depending on the publication), we would put this sentence:

"My love of journalism is matched only by my love of __________."

For BEEF Magazine? Fill in the blank with "beef." For Sportsman's Digest? Outdoor issues. Hog Market Today? Swine. You get the idea.

No wonder we didn't get anywhere with them. The thing is, I've been feeling like I've been sending a lot of letters like that out lately. With similar results.

Edited, several hours later, to add: The whole point of this entry is that I will soon be applying for a position that combines my love of journalism with my love of party politics, in a way I could only dream of before. So visualize me getting a job, m'kay?

5 comments:

  1. The nostalgia generated by this was palpable. For one, I noticed that I didn't even need to purchase resume paper this summer for job hunting. The internet has changed all that a great deal, though I'm not sure for the better. This time, I got a lot of emails that were clearly generated by some software, thanking me from the bottom of its microchip for applying to job #849HJ334.54. That, and my resume would live on it its database forever. Great! And who would have thought I would feel nostalgic about buying resume paper?

    Considering I graduated with you and had the same problems, it was fun to see it through more literary eyes. =) And if I remember right, you had a better first job than I did (mine was administrative assistant - yikes!). But at least my first office was in Court International across from Wellstone's office...

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  2. Visualizing as we type!

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  3. Kris, my first job was a four-day-a-week "editor" at PRNewswire -- it involved typing press releases for distribution on the newswire. The job now doesn't exist, I think -- scanning and e-mail have made it obsolete. At the time, I loved it -- it paid well and I got a three-day weekend every week! And THEN I was hired full-time! The good thing about it was, I could talk it up well: "Prepared highly time-sensitive and market-sensitive information for distribution on national and international newswires," etc.

    And thanks, Kitty!

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  4. My love of journalism is matched only by my love of your blog.

    The funny thing is that the PR Newswire job was the envy of all of us who were working part-time, no-benefits jobs only remotely related to our fields. You had a REAL job, as opposed to working at the Disney Store at the Mall of America or fighting with cranky church ladies while editing and laying out church bulletins. And, since this was still so close to college that we hadn't yet learned to be cagey about salary information, it was common knowledge that your salary was HIGHER THAN THE TEENS (just barely, but still)! (And you call yourself the common man! Bah.)

    Visualizing madly for ya, man...

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  5. My blank would have had to say "Cherished Teddies" or "Precious Moments," and it was a writing gig. I kid you not.

    Goooooo, Krup!

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