Pushing boxes by Helen Arase

What does a young journalist do whilst waiting for job-related calls and interviews?


We all need to pay rent and eat. I’ve always felt like a failure for not being employed in my field after graduating from school - twice.

However, I realize that’s totally bratty and people everywhere are doing what they have to do to make ends meet. Many people (read journalists) probably don’t talk about the jobs they do/did when un(der)employed.

I feel good that I’m doing so much. I’m trying. Not just sitting around and waiting for money to magically come to me.

I’m teaching the photojournalism classes at the University of La Verne. Freelancing as a photographer/videographer/journalist. On retainer as a freelance documentarian for a TV station. And I’m working in the backroom of my local Target.

Now I’m not doing all of these things all the time but it’s nice to know I’m out there.

I’m so glad I’ve taken this Target job because it’s actually one of the most fun I’ve ever had. I enjoy the people, the management and the work is better than running around answering questions on the floor. I like that it’s a little more laid-back. I’ve never had to lift more, climb more or had more bruises before, but I’m enjoying myself.

I haven’t broadcasted the Target job because it’s not in my wheelhouse. Obviously this is my journalism website and the internet is forever, but I felt that I should share why I’ve been MIA (I don’t blog much anyway) and what I’m doing to stay active.

Going through interviews by Helen Arase

In an effort to not be homeless, I’ve taken a part-time job - the kind that we all do in high school or college. Going into the interview and the manager saying, “Wait you have a master’s degree…” and then looking at me like, please explain why you’re here - yeah that sucked.

Death of my pride aside, I’m hustling. Having three jobs - this part-time job, teaching part-time and freelancing - is making me productive. It gives me motivation when I go through interviews too.

I’ve completed the most intense hiring process for a documentarian position at a television station. It’s taken me months of various interview stages to get to the point of being “hired” as a freelancer.

Really exciting place to be, obviously, but the station isn’t ready to start work on the show and doesn’t know if they’ll hire me to work. I’ve just been cleared or designated by the company as “hirable” and now they have the green light to contract me.

I’ve also been talking to the person who’d be my supervisor and he said I’m basically runner-up for the full-time position that needs to be filled in January. It’s a little punch in the gut, but I’m also pleasantly surprised that I’m this close to being the best fit for a video job. I’m focusing on that and hoping they call me.

I went back and watched my documentary again because I wanted to see if I could identify one or more things that would make me an attractive candidate, especially if that was the only work sample of mine they would have seen.

I remembered how much I liked creating this documentary. It was super stressful but I’m proud of the result. I will always see all the stuff I wish I’d done differently in the shooting and the editing, but I’m OK with sending this out to represent who I am as a storyteller.

With free time I’ve been creating short videos and photos. I’ll need to get those online. I had a hard drive mishap and am still catching up.

Other interviews come up every now and then too - and have my eye on something big that just got posted today.

The grind never stops. I won’t stop until I’m working full-time as a journalist.

The accidental, slightly reluctant educator by Helen Arase

The University of La Verne needed someone to teach a few photography courses. Well, they needed three professors’ worth of classes to be taught since the chair, the only other full-time professor and the senior-most adjunct professor all left the university.

The committee to replace the chair didn’t find anyone so the interim chair, Morgan, and the now senior-most adjunct instructor, Art, asked me if I would consider teaching.

Talk about being blind-sided by a different career path…

My resume and transcripts were expedited through the department and straight to the dean since it was the week before the semester started.

Because I have big doses of self-doubt at times I asked Art if I got the job because I was qualified or if it was because I knew most of the department. And I’m so relieved that he said my name came up because they knew who I was but it was because I was qualified with experience in the areas of photography, and that the dean was the one who made the hiring decision after Art passed along my unofficial “application.”

I put application in quotations because I really didn’t apply for the job - it was offered and slammed through the process.

So now I’m teaching a documentary photography course. It’s an independent study-type of schedule and format, and I have two students. I’m cleared to advise the photography staff/teach photojournalism courses in the spring if I want.

The great thing about the format of this semester’s class is that it doesn’t really get in the way if I freelance or get another job because there isn’t a set schedule, and it’s longterm, student-driven coursework.


I am actively applying for jobs in the field of journalism. ULV knows this and the photo department faculty are supportive of me following my dream.

I want to be a journalist so badly that it hurts. I’ll do any medium and cover any beat. There have been some open positions for stuff like community or cops beats. Breaking news sounds exciting. Getting out into the community sounds exciting.

And if I got a job that was writing or something with less traveling I could get to know the community by going out and photographing. It wouldn’t have to be for the outlet or anything but just so the community would get to know who I am and I would get to know them too.

For now though I’m treading water and trying to stay productive, creative and journalistic. I went to USC to learn more skills for practical application in the field, and I intend to use them.