UChic Career Quest: Saints of Networking

I recently attended a networking event in Los Angeles for future magazine editors. Seeing as I still don’t have a job, a month after returning from a press trip to Jordan and a little over a month out of college, I have literally nothing better to do than to sit around and apply for jobs and, of course, network the hell out of myself.

The event took place at a dubious looking bar in Culver City called “Saints and Sinners.” A fellow attendee noted its appearance, “When I drove up, I thought it was a strip club.” The place, however, turned out to be quite hip and popular among the LA crowd. Needless to say, everyone at the event fell into the category of “saints.” Kind, well-dressed, well-behaved, and most likely unemployed…saints. Sure, we were all drinking and talking ourselves up, but there was nothing sinful about it.

Soon, we realized that we were all, unfortunately, in the same boat. It was like the blind leading the blind. We all showed up, hoping to meet someone who would, through someone else they knew, get us some sort of job somewhere. No can do.

The evening’s exchange usually went something like this:

– Hello, how are you? My name is Olga. I just graduated from BU, what do you do?

– I am…well, I used to be…I guess I’m a freelance journalist.

Oh wow, how interesting…

The freelance journalist line is something I got quite a bit that night. I guess I could also call myself a freelance journalist, with more emphasis on the “free” part of that title. We were all there to network to get a job from someone; someone who unfortunately wasn’t actually there.

The event reminded me a bit of an article by Louis Menand, titled “Show or Tell,” which I recently read in The New Yorker. The piece was about the effectiveness of creative writing courses and he starts it by saying, “Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem.”

The networking event presented a similar dilemma. The theory, here, however, was that we would be able to help one another find our way out of the black hole that the journalism job market is today. Unfortunately, no one brought their flashlight this time and we are still mostly stuck in the dark.

My hope, however, is that all of my arrogant and cynical brouhaha will dissipate into nothingness and that one day, the kind, smart, and, yes, unemployed, people I met at this event will all become successful colleagues of mine…and we will all live happily ever after.

But, for now, I’ll continue ranting about it, as I find it mildly entertaining to myself, and hopefully to others.


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