Someone I like who owns a wonderful small business is looking for an office assistant and posts the details on FB along with the note alerting everyone. One of the words describing the person they are looking for—"young"—pops out of the screen and pokes me in the eye. So I write: "young?" He responds: "yeah, it's entry level." Well, yeah the word "assistant" in the description kind of gives that away. Here is the thing: There are no entry level jobs, there are only jobs. This is the world we live in now. You are probably thinking that I am bent out of shape because I am now on the other side of "young," but my darling, so are you by another day today and if you wake up tomorrow... We've got to change our thinking. What we need is a complete overhaul of the system, but in the meantime, how about we re-examine our youth obsession? Look, I know it is just another way of saying that the pay is low. But we know how to read these ads. We know, for instance, that a job listing that says the applicant should have a "sense of humor" is just another way of saying that the boss is an asshole.
Journalists are not the only ones who are having to reinvent themselves, but I supppose that's the angle I am speaking from. Fortunately, I diversified more than ten years ago when I was recuited into foundation work. I went from feeling indifferent toward philanthropy to being smitten with that line of work. But I remained attached to journalism. For years I could afford to freelance because I had steady contract work in philanthropy. Then the journalism portion of my "career" become my avocation. I want to see journalism revived like GM not only because I want my colleagues (and me too) to have meaningful work, but because we need it for our democracy. In the meantime, some incredibly talented people will have to take office assistant jobs and put up with all kinds of nonsense.
And another work related-bit. Recently I attended a fundraiser at the MCA for three small performance companies. It was an announcement for a creative partnership that would allow these groups to share a professional fundraiser. A great idea. What bothered me was this notion that this work—grantwriting etcetera—was tedious and that creatives should be creating. One of the companies put on a skit where a dancer is talking on a cell phone while her company is waiting for her to join them. In this faux conversation she mentions how she was lucky to get work cleaning out basements (because of the recent flooding in the area) since there hadn't been much dance work. Yes, it was meant to be funny, but why wouldn't an artist want to know how to write a grant for work? And shouldn't we also be celebrating the fact that a full-time position for an arts management type has been created in this economy with this new partnership?