Saturday, September 5, 2009

To Blog, or Not to Blog...

It's obvious now what my answer is to this question, but it seems to be coming up a lot. Like in a conversation I had a few weeks back with my brother-in-law, who had just earned his Master's and is, like me, unemployed. "What is a blog, anyway?" he asked, when I brought up the topic. He's a traditional guy, but he doesn't live under a rock. Instead, what his question seemed to be asking was, "What might a blog be, for me?" He and I are a lot alike; both majored in English, enjoy creative writing, and are pursuing non-profit work. We both agreed that most blogs we'd encountered, aside from the personal, online diary-blogs, were politically-tilted, or corporately-minded. I didn't have a firm answer for him, as this was a question I'd been contemplating for months.
I had always considered myself tech/communications/writing savvy, and throughout college was able to flex those muscles for the occasional class project. Yet, once I exited the less rigorously structured "real world" (yes, college is structured, no matter what they told us in high school. Just think about the word 'assignment'. No one is assigning you to anything once you're looking for work.) I was surprised to learn that many of my peers had blogs that were at least loosely related to careers and jobs. And the blogs I was now noticing were not only about cutesy fashions or delicious dishes. Suddenly, it seemed this word was everywhere, not just my friends' Facebook pages, but in nearly every piece of 21st century career advice I came across - sometimes, on blogs. Everyone was touting the power of the blog. As I continued the summer sans employment, the idea gained weight. But still, I wondered, how could a blog be an asset to me and an attraction to potential employers? What would I write about? Who would read it?

There is a seemingly endless amount of literature on this topic, and its no longer just online. Books on blogging, magazines for bloggers. Not to mention blogs for bloggers! Even lead characters in movies are doing it. Which lead to my next concern...in a sea of bloggers, how could I ever stand out?

Ultimately, my decision to blog came from the realization that whether or not my content was totally original, whether or not I developed a large following, scored a book or movie deal (you never know!), I would be focusing in on a topic (post-college joblessness) and producing a particular take on it. As Adrienne Waldo of the blog Ask A Millenial put it, "[A blog] serves as a sort of enhanced writing sample because it allows employers a unique look at your personality in addition to seeing that you can, in fact, write. It also shows that you're tech-savvy and motivated -- both extremely important qualities to have in today's job market." And if over time, this blog actually reaches a measurable audience, then that will be another added bonus. (Only on Post #2, people). The point was that I could no longer ignore the role that new media, i.e. blogging, plays in the jobs world, no matter how much I tried to distance myself from the fast-paced, competitive corporate power ladder. Blogs are used, and useful, in every field, to everyone. For my nonprofit friends, including my skeptical bro-in-law, you can start here. Rather than hold myself back in timid reservation because of my age and brand-spanking-newness to the job market, I'm sharing what I do know and what I'm learning. And because my situation is far from unique, there will hopefully be people out there who will find a reason to read this (Activate social-networking skills NOW).

And it's all a part of my larger approach to being gainfully unemployed. Without formal employment, without a supervisor and team of colleagues to assign projects and form ideas, we better be seeking information daily, still forming ideas, and sharing/collaborating with a larger community, even if that community exists in a vast, somewhat intimidating technological jungle. Welcome to the 21st century...and the employment jungle!


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