View Point

Why you shouldn’t join Journalism too early

Please don’t join as a professional journalist immediately after college. Please pause to do a professional diploma or a Masters. Please allow me to tell you why.

I have a BA with Honours in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata.

I joined as a full-time journalist at The Telegraph when I was in my third year of college.

Journalism was a booming industry even in 1999–2000 but I chose newspapers, as they were considered at the top of the news media food-chain.

I had a choice of going to Presidency University, Kolkata for my Masters but I decided against it since I always wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to seize the opportunity.

I told myself that this is what I should be doing next. Basically, my thoughts back then and your thoughts now, are exactly the same.

That I secured a position as a trainee reporter with one of the top newspapers in the country, further boosted my confidence and fanned my ego.

So, without any further ado, I dived headlong into a career of a journalism in the year 2000.I completed my traineeship in The Telegraph along with my graduation and was counted as one of the youngest (professional) journalists in the country at that time. However, the celebration was short-lived.

My career wasn’t exactly a fairy tale. Looking back, I feel it was a wrong decision.

Here are the negatives of becoming a journalist immediately after your graduation.

These 10 things happened to me next…

  1. I got a job ahead of most of my classmates who went on to do their Masters or professional PG courses. As a result, I always had money on me while they (my classmates) were still students and never seemed to have enough money in their pockets. They envied me and I enjoyed it.
  2. I couldn’t score well in my third year finals and lost my first class because I had ignored my studies in the final year (due to work pressure). I scored 58.8% in my final year (English Honours papers).
  3. I realised many years later on that a Masters is absolutely necessary at a senior level and I completed my MBA with great difficulty along with my job.
  4. By the time, my classmates started getting jobs, I was already an established journalist with a very decent salary. After joining Telegraph and staying there for one year, I had moved on to The Times of India (newspaper) as a senior journalist. Most of my friends were probationers and just weeks into their first jobs. I was still on top of the world.
  5. However, things started moving southwards soon. My classmates started earning double than me in less than three years (after the initial one year into their first jobs) because they were professionally trained in their respective fields, better equipped, had internship experiences while I was STILL learning on the job.
  6. I didn’t have any formal training in journalism, hence I made several ghastly mistakes early on in my career. I could have destroyed my own career, but thankfully I was clever enough to bounce back every time.
  7. There was nobody to help me — no mentors, no professors or no senior journalist to hold my hand. Journalism is actually a jungle where everybody eats up everybody to move forward. It’s a remorseless world.
  8. I became a senior journalist at the age of 23 but at every step I felt the need of a professional course which could have made my journey less painful. If I had done a professional PG course then I would have not faced so many obstacles. As a senior journalist (senior reporter) at 23 years, I couldn’t possibly leave everything to do a professional Journalism course.
  9. Journalism is a demanding profession. I missed my college life everyday but I was sucked into cold world of journalism so much that I didn’t even have time to even meet my friends on weekends. I started working like a robot after a few years.
  10. I started very early and hence I burnt out early too. It was inevitable, I guess. I was out of a regular day-to-day journalism job at around 35 years of age. It was an early retirement of sorts as I had burnt myself out.

I ended my full-time career as the Chief of Bureau at The Times of India (newspaper)in 2014 in Mumbai (which you might define as a successful career).

But I would never tell others to follow my path.

Please complete your Masters Degree in Journalism or do a PG Diploma in Journalism before you join the industry.

More importantly, enjoy your college and university life as a student. You are never going to get it back.

There’s no glory in struggling the way I did early on in in my career.

A professional degree/diploma in journalism enhances your longevity in the industry and arms you against the odds that the profession will throw at you early on in your career.

All the very best in your journalism career.

Important attribution: The same answer with some modifications also features on my Quora page HERE. The writer of both the blogs are the same person.