Just about every rising journalism graduate wrestles with a variation of the question that won the latest voting round in our Currently Curious series.
“As a soon-to-be college grad, do I really have to start in the middle of nowhere to eventually get into the big-league public radio game?” asks Eliza Lambert, a 21-year-old documentary media student at New York University.
Lambert told Current that she isn’t opposed to starting small. She’s from Maine, where an internship with Maine Public Broadcasting inspired her to chart a career in public radio. Over the summer, she interned for WNYC’s The Takeaway in New York City and is now a per diem associate producer with the show, she said.
But as graduation approaches, she’s feeling torn as she tries to answer that age-old question of where to make a start. People often advise her that she needs to go to, say, rural Oklahoma — “no offense” to the state, she said — or just someplace small to gain experience and pay her dues.
“I’m not against that,” Lambert said. “I really loved Maine Public Broadcasting, and I love Maine and rural areas. I’m comfortable there, but I think because I’m so lucky, and I feel like I’ve worked hard to be in this position at WNYC, I have this question of, ‘Can I stay here? Can I make it work freelance?’”
And Lambert wonders whether the advice she’s received on starting small is sound. “There’s this pervading myth, and I didn’t know that it was up-to-date, necessarily,” Lambert said. But she acknowledges there could be benefits. “I would rather spend my time getting work experience than necessarily spend months trying to get jobs in an oversaturated market,” Lambert said.
How would you advise Lambert? And if you started out in a smaller market, why and how did you take that path? Please email me or respond below in a comment. We’ll be talking to recruiters and others to answer Lambert’s questions in an upcoming article.
Submit your own question to Currently Curious in the form below. It could be investigated in a future story.