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marytindall

Mary Knowles Tindall, DJNF/Temple 2008, interned this past summer at The Wall Street Journal. On October 30, she began work as a copy editor at the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel.

I’ve really enjoyed reading the stories of DJNF/Temple alums on this blog,
particularly those of my classmates who went through boot camp in 2008.

Others have already talked about the job hunt and its challenges, and I have
another variation on the tale. I was hired two weeks ago as a copy editor at
the Orlando Sentinel, a daily newspaper in Orlando, Florida.

Getting here has been a roller-coaster ride. After the completion of my Wall
Street Journal internship
, I applied for and was offered a copy-editing job
at Dow Jones Newswires in Jersey City, N.J. I was thrilled at the
opportunity. At 21 years old and right out of college, I had been offered a
job at one of the world’s elite news services. That elation soon turned to
serious soul-searching, though, and I ultimately decided to return to
Orlando. I got married in May, immediately before starting DJNF/Temple, and my
husband and I decided to stay in Orlando, where he has a good job and both
our families are, for at least a few more years.

That decision was an emotional one for me. I was torn between a job offer
that seemed to fulfill my long-held dreams of doing prestigious journalism
in an exciting city, and on the other hand, what seemed to be best for me in
my personal life. I kept remembering what Dr. Trayes told us about how to
make career decisions: Consider the quality of life that you’ll be taking on
in a new job. The salary and the job title are only part of the equation. I
knew that living in the Greater New York area would be fun for a while, but
at heart I am a southern girl. The climate, the crowds and the expensive
lifestyle simply weren’t for me, and I would miss my family. And there are
many cities in the U.S. that need good journalists, including Orlando.

So, with that in mind, I set out on the job hunt. I went to job fairs, sent
out my resume, and searched online databases. I was discouraged at what
seemed to be the complete dearth of jobs in journalism in my city. One thing
that kept me going was the encouragement and prayers of friends and family.
There were many days when I cried because I felt as though my degree was
worth nothing in a job market already flooded with laid-off professionals
more qualified than I was. In this dark time, I was blessed to become
acquainted with one of my new neighbors. She is a successful business owner
herself, and she consoled me, telling me my skills and experience were
valuable, and that I just needed to wait on the right timing. She said that
I should use the waiting time to improve my skills and envision how they
might be used in a variety of jobs — not just newspaper journalism. That
was some of the best advice I received in my job search. I used that time to
start freelancing for a magazine, learning how to promote myself and turn my
skills into cold hard cash. Aside from the money, I loved having something
constructive to do with my time. I also went to a career counselor at my
alma mater, the University of Central Florida, who helped me shape my resume
into something appropriate for jobs in public relations or other
communications jobs.

Finally, a door opened up. One day, I happened to browse a blog that I visit
occasionally. Its writer used to work at the Orlando Sentinel, and she
posted a job opening for a copy editor. It wasn’t posted on any of the
journalism jobs Web sites, so I e-mailed the Sentinel’s recruiter to ask
whether it was still open. The recruiter knew me from two reporting internships
I’d had at the Sentinel. He said it was an opening in Sports, and that they
wanted someone with experience editing sports copy, which I don’t have. It
seemed like another dead end … until I got an e-mail a few days later
saying that someone in News had filled the position, and now his job was
open. Within a couple of weeks, I had taken a tryout, gone through two sets
of interviews, and beaten out several dozen candidates for the copy-editing
job. I got a job offer Oct. 27 and started Oct. 30.

Since then, I’ve worked the craziness of election night, learned the basics
of my job, and marveled many times at the fact that I’m even employed. You
see, over the summer, the Sentinel laid off several dozen employees in two
rounds of job cuts. No one thought they’d be hiring any time in the
foreseeable future. Every time I’m tempted to complain about working
weekends, I thank God that I am more fortunate than millions of other
Americans. Had I not completed DJNF and rounded out my reporting skills with
editing abilities, I seriously doubt I’d be employed right now. Yet I am —
and I love it here. I can’t believe I get paid to read the news and make
stories better. I’ve received praise for my headlines and my A1 catches, and
I know I can advance my career here without sacrificing those people or
places that I love.

My advice: Take advantage of every opportunity you can, but don’t be afraid
to turn down a job that doesn’t fit your priorities in life. Learn how to
promote yourself — it’s OK to brag to a degree, as long as you realize you
don’t know everything. And no matter what everyone else says, journalism is
still an amazing profession.

P.S. — A shout-out to Claire Craft, a newly minted Roanoke Times copy
editor who’s been a big help to my friend Melissa in her job search. DJNF
connections are invaluable! Thanks, Claire!

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