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Michelle Carter acting as script supervisor on the set of Buffering, episode 5, on June 8, 2013. | Eric Carroll / Submitted

New grads need Town Times of their own


(This is part of an ongoing series of column from writers, past and present, associated with Town Times in celebration of the newspaper’s 20 years of publication.)

Graduation season is upon us, and many of you new or upcoming grads may be wondering: “How do I do that thing where I make money to sustain my life while also doing something that is at all related to the thing I just finished studying and in which I now have a degree?”

The answer is not the same for everyone. But for me, it was pretty simple.

Like most, for my entire academic career, I was promised the sweet candy of job security, six figures, health benefits, 401ks and unassailable happiness simply for deciding to pursue post-secondary education and walking out with an eight-by-eleven scroll with my name on it. But who knew what fate truly awaited me in the “real” world?

The answer was eight months of tirelessly sending out resumes, scanning newspapers and online job listings, applying for positions far beneath my qualifications and never even hearing back a “no” or a “thanks anyway” or an “ask again later.” But I wasn’t content to spend my days merely lounging around and marathoning the entire body of Doctor Who (as satisfying as that might have been). I knew that, even if I couldn’t find that sweet-candy job, I was going to do something productive and meaningful with my time.

That’s when I decided to walk into the Town Times.

I introduced myself to Joy Boone in advertising and Stephanie Wilcox, then editor, and inquired about any open positions. As they didn’t have any available, I offered my time in a volunteer capacity. For a few hours a week, I came into the office and worked side by side with Dee, then office manager, while she put together the final text of the newspaper. I marked any formatting issues, typos or last-minute copy changes before the paper went off to the printers. I didn’t have a retirement plan, but I was doing what I truly loved.

Six months later, when the position of office manager was available, I happily applied. The fact that I already knew the ropes of how the newspaper ran and I worked well with the team made me a perfect candidate for the job. And, of course, that eight-by-eleven scroll with my name on it.

I was elated to finally have a job in my field of study, but it didn’t come from perusing want ads or pinning my business card to local coffee shop corkboard. It came from deciding where I wanted to work and making it happen by blazing my own trail. And I employed (no pun intended) that same modus operandi a year later when I flew across the country to start a new life in California in an entirely new industry. “Why, no, I don’t have any experience as a script supervisor, nor have I ever met one or know what one does, but if your low-budget film is willing to let me play in its sandbox, heck yeah I’ll do it for free! When do I start?”

Everyone hits that post-graduation wall of “no one will hire me without experience, but I can’t get experience until someone hires me.” But there’s a loophole: work for free. People will always accept your help if the intention behind it comes from passion and not from greed. Do what you love simply because you love doing it, and not because you’re getting paid to do it.

The experience will come from your dedication to your passion, and not from collecting the first meaningless paycheck someone is willing to stick in your hands. Live your life according to your rules and not anyone else’s.

That’s the beauty of graduation. You’ve got the diploma. Academia is behind you. Your life is up to you now. Find your Town Times and start writing your own story.



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