Continuing education after journalism school

Sometimes I feel stupid.

Wholly, woefully, completely ignorant of many aspects of life, especially when it comes to surviving in Canada’s ever-declining journalism market, but some people thrive in these conditions.

Heck, there are people out there who are years younger than me, yet somehow have experience and education that far outweigh my own (I was a pretty lazy student and generally a pretty lazy person).

However, continuing education is something we should all aspire to no matter our age, so here’s what I’m planning to do:

Certificate

While I was in school, I met a few people who were undertaking their second undergraduate degree. That’s an extra four years and potentially $25,000 in pursuit of an education.

I don’t have time for that, so what am I going to do?

Well, I’ve spent the past year working at a small newspaper and what I’ve enjoyed the most is layout. There’s something about creating a newspaper spread or trying something new that intrigues me, so I might as well work on something I feel an ounce of passion for.

At Ryerson University (the school I went to for my undergrad), there’s a graphics communications department and a certificate program that could be completed probably in about two years. There are four required courses and three electives you have to take over the course of the program.

As someone who works full time, the extra load of a program like this might seem like a lot, but it’s better to show potential future employers that you’re still working on yourself rather than letting your brain/skills stagnate.

It’s about staying contemporary people! A journalism degree isn’t worth anything unless you have a tonne of practical experience or furthered education to back it up. It’s why you see an influx of skilled people doing their Masters in Journalism.

A certificate offers me a relatively low cost (each course is about $550 *dies*) way of increasing my skill set while learning about something I’m interested in. The requirements are easily met and it won’t be as rigorous as doing a Masters. So for me it seems like a win-win situation except when I take into account the cost of the program, but it’s an investment in my self.

There are also scholarships for returning students I’ll be applying for, so there’s a chance my return to academia could be a little easier on my wallet.

What will this do for me?

Well that’s really up to a whole other set of conditions, but in the immediate future it’ll help me get back into an academic mindset, it’ll add to my resume, and it’ll give me a reason to go downtown other than faffing about.

More seriously, it gives me a skill that I can say I’m actually educated in!

This is finding a skill book, this is ingesting a Power Tab, and this is accosting a trainer!

Finding a way to bring some order to the chaos that is my current body of work is the best way of ensuring I can go into an interview able to say, “Yes, I know how to do this and I’m totally not bullshitting you.”

Anyone can point to work examples, clippings, or layouts, but being able to show you’ve gotten into the theory behind what you’re doing is important. Most of the time, I’m flying by the seat of my layout programs, so being able to lift myself up from the darkness that is mostly guessing in my work would do wonders.

However, what’s the benefit in doing a $3500 course when Dummies books are available? I think there’s something about making a monetary investment that will make you care about what you’re doing, especially when the money’s coming right out of your bank account, but guidance goes a long way.

So here’s hoping by the start of the school year (I really need to check the enrolment period), I’ll be a student again.

*Update*

Sometime I feel even more stupid than usual. Suffice to say, I’ll be looking into this certificate program alongside a number of others.

When looking into Graphic Communications Management, or any program that has a particularly vague titles, I discovered that it mostly has to do with pre-press and printing.

If I wanted to own a print shop or work at one maybe this would be a good choice for me, but as I want to keep myself in journalism maybe this isn’t the best choice. There’s an open house coming up, so I’ll be sure to update on how that goes!

Pro tip: Always look into the jobs a program can net you.

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