It has been a crazy last couple of weeks for me. Starting two jobs, one full-time and one part-time, and working over 70 hours a week is something I’m not used to doing. But for the next couple of months, maybe even half or full year, it will become the norm for me. As a kid starting out in a profession that used to be revered by many, journalism isn’t the easiest profession to succeed in, and it’s even tough to get a start.
I was able to land a job one week after I graduated from college. Normally, it takes recent graduates one, two, or even six months before they get an offer or the job opportunity they want. I headed down to Fairfield, IA., for a new experience and to set out on my journey to become a sportswriter.
The first few weeks flew by me. I was so busy learning the ropes, the systems, and the programs that I hardly had any time to enjoy it. Before I knew it, I had been there for six months, and, stupidly, was looking to move up the ladder.
That was my first mistake. It was too soon, but I didn’t care. I thought I had mastered the system and the profession in just six months, and thought I was ready for bigger and better things.
Then came the move to Minot, ND., literally out-in-the-middle-nowhere. I thought a higher salary meant more money. Stupidly, I didn’t correctly calculate the cost-of-living or grocery prices. I was paying $4.15 for a gallon of 1% milk. Bread was $3.25, just for a simple loaf of Country Hearth Split-Top wheat.
I was paying $825 for rent, plus electricity. Add another $98.00 for cable and internet, and I was spending just about $1,000 a month on those two things and groceries. The “higher salary” came out to be $50.00 more per paycheck in Minot than in Fairfield.
In Fairfield, I paid $500 for rent and about $125-$150 per month on groceries, that includes alcoholic purchases. I didn’t have cable, but internet was split throughout the “house-apartment,” so everybody paid a whopping $20 a month for extremely fast and reliable internet. My electricity bill was $25 per month. One paycheck in Iowa paid for one month of everything that I needed, plus I would have at least $150 left over, and an entirely separate paycheck that I could put directly into my many savings’ accounts. Yes, I have multiple accounts because I am saving for multiple things.
I moved to Minot at the beginning of June, so it ended up costing me a lot of my money that I had saved up. A $600 rent deposit, plus $500 for rent in Iowa, and a pro-rated rent in Minot added up to over $1,700 total. Add another $80 for gas to get from Fairfield to Minot, and it’s pushing almost $1,800.
That was just to move. To move to a town where I’d never been, to a state that is nearly desolate, despite huge oil field production. I had chosen to leave a town of 10,000 people for a town of over 45,000 people. A five-day daily newspaper, where I had Saturday, Sunday, and holidays off, for a seven-day daily newspaper that made me work weekends and holidays.
Instead of being five hours from home, I was now eight hours from home.
Factor in that the job in Minot didn’t work out, for a number of reasons, and it led to one big, stupid move. If there is any time in life for a “do-over,” it’s when someone is just getting started.
I stopped working right after the Fourth of July, and I immediately started looking for other available jobs. I sent out my resume, and received responses within the hour. I had an in-person interview by the end of the week. I spent hours on the phone, sent hundreds of back-and-forth emails, and even texted potential employers. According to them, their words not mine, I was always in the final two for the position. But I couldn’t get over the hump.
One month passed, and I was running out of money. I got so desperate that I started looking for other work in Minot. I applied to stores, fast-food restaurants, and even to be a delivery driver for Pizza Hut and Dominoes. I didn’t even get a call back. My dad mentioned that maybe it was a good idea to go back to school for IT. I contemplated that idea and reached out to tech schools in the Twin Cities. But the thought of going back to school was something I knew that I didn’t want to do.
Then, I got a call from a newspaper in Oklahoma, and my hope was renewed. Then, I was contacted by a newspaper just 20 miles from my hometown of Plymouth, MN. They wanted to do an in-person interview with me as soon as I was available. I packed a bag, thinking I was going to come back to Minot in a few days, and I left in the middle of the night. I arrived home around 11:30 a.m. with my interview scheduled at 2:30 p.m.
Long story short, I worked with that newspaper for a few weeks, doing freelance work for their high school sports coverage. Also, I never spent another night in my apartment in Minot.
While I was freelancing, I saw a sports position opening for a paper in Winsted, MN., about 45 minutes west of the Twin Cities. I applied for it, and was later told that I was told I was the first person to apply. I got a call within 20 minutes of sending them my resume. I was able to get an in-person interview later that week.
Again, long story short, I impressed them enough to receive a job offer five days later. Without hesitation, I happily accepted the offer.
Now I am starting my third week at The Herald Journal, the weekly paper in Winsted, and I couldn’t be more than happy. While I have moved back home for the interim, I am enjoying being back in my comfort zone. Everything is a little easier when I’m at home.
It’s safe and easy for me to say that I made a huge mistake leaving Fairfield for Minot. When you’re young, it’s all about gaining experience and learning the craft. It should never be about the money. It took a slap in the face for me to realize it. Now that I have, I’m extremely happy to be busy from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. five days a week and early on Saturday morning.
While we all love to “play” when we are young, there is no reason not to work hard at the same time.
I’m just glad to be back in the game.