Tag Archives: How to become a journalist

You Are Appointed

In this season of placements, this week’s column looks at what it takes to land yourself a job and what are the qualities to survive in the corporate world. And without much ado, we begin with the first question that you as a person applying for a fresh job must naturally ask: Why am I reading a humour column and not any industry-related brochure?

No, that was just a joke to put you at ease. The appropriate question for you to ask is: ‘What is the future of the industry I am applying for? What are the happening developments in it?’ Like for most things in life, internet could be handy here, too. So if you are applying for a job in an automobile company, your typical query on the Google search box could be, ‘hot trends in automobile industry’, and before long you would be swamped with lakhs and lakhs of links, out of which one or two may be mildly relevant to your actual query, but you are most likely to land in some ‘interesting’ sites, if you get our drift, due to the all important word ‘hot’ in your search question.

(Talking of ‘hot’, it is the most auto-suggested word in any search tool, and it unfailingly, and irresistibly, shows up at the end of any woman celebrity’s name, unless of course the female person you are searching for is either Kollangudi Karuppayi or Madeline Albright. As Bill Gates famously observed, on the internet porn is all, the rest is just scenery).

Be that as it may, the other trusted way of finding out about an industry’s prospects is through a free and forthright chat with a person who is already employed in it. And after an hour or two with any expert in the field you will be able to arrive at the right conclusion, which is mostly that industry insiders are even more clueless than you.

Seriously, there is no one in any industry who can say with certitude what the future, as in five or six years down the line, portends. Most fields would be actually glad to have people who can possibly tell, even passably, what will happen the coming month.

As you can see, predicting tomorrow is pretty much an impossible task in most areas, so you are better off looking for an answer to the question of skills needed to succeed in the industry you are interested in.

If you are an engineer who has majored in computer science, and you are planning to get into the IT industry, your essential skill should lie in working in high-end deadline-defined projects along with team-mates whose previous major acquaintance with the computer was while booking tickets on the IRCTC site. I’m not being flippant. The other day I met a guy who had completed civil engineering from the Institute of Road and Transport Technology (Erode) who has been recruited by an IT company with vast exposure to the pharma industry. I asked him on what basis his company chose him. He naturally said, ‘why ask me? Ask the company’. Chastened, I asked what made him, a civil engineer, to work in a pharma-related IT company. His reply was terse: ‘They have offices in Switzerland’. As you can see what you need to work in the IT industry — I want to you stay focused here — is just a bunch of desperate recruiters.

On the other hand, if you are aspiring to be a print journalist, one who wants to write for newspapers and magazines, the most important talent you have to possess is —why not? — the ability to look comfortable on TV.

No, I am not kidding. Till last week, the situation was that If you wanted to know the views of Indian Express on a particular issue, you —- OK, this is the most obvious — tuned into NDTV. For, that is where Shekhar Gupta usually held forth on a regular basis while writing an occasional column for his paper whenever they let him out of the studios.

But let us face it, journalism is a very unique field, in that it is possible to survive even without any redeeming talent. Let me not elaborate any further lest I am accused of tooting my own horn.

While all industries require specific skills, what really helps you emerge truly successful is a hardy set of general qualities like devotion, dedication and discipline and the important realisation that, at the end of the day, the guy who laughs loudest to the boss’s joke gets the better appraisal.

A general advice: Regardless of the industry you end up in and regardless of the designation you get, just remember this: If your regular job at your everyday desk entails wearing a tie, whatever work you do in your professional capacity is perfectly capable of being accomplished even by a mildly intelligent Yorkshire Terrier.