Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be going to grad school… You see, in my former career (30+ years in the TV business), advanced degrees were just not “a thing.” No need for them in any discipline on virtually any level. In fact, many folks outside of the News Department at any given TV station do not even have Bachelor’s degrees. It truly is a field where experience outweighs education by a large measure. As a hiring manager myself for many years, I always put much more emphasis on a job candidate’s hands-on experience than on what he or she might have accomplished in the classroom.
Then a funny thing happened on my way to retiring from the business on my own timeline. That experience, of which I had an impressive boatload, turned on me. As had happened to so many of my peers, that trunk of institutional knowledge became like a pair of cement shoes, and my weekly paycheck, modestly inflated by 25 years of seniority at my last workplace, became all the reason senior management needed to decide to “go in a new direction.” Ah, that phrase repeated so often by those in my peer group as being the shot that felled them, caught me right between the eyes as well. The brilliantly flawed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once famously opined,
“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” – Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the 80’s
I have never found an argument with the good doctor’s stance on the subject.
So, after a period of time (likely the subject of a future blog post at some point), I found myself employed within the hallowed halls of academia, and I must say that it has been a refreshing change. The differences from TV are many, and I can, again, certainly fill a subsequent post on that subject, but the one that relates to this particular assignment is that in higher-ed, advanced degrees are absolutely “a thing.” As if I had not already started becoming aware of that fact by the assorted salutations proffered around my workplace – i.e. – who is to be addressed as “Doctor” and who is to be addressed as “Mister” – I also noticed that the job description for virtually every staff position above my level at the College required at least a Master’s degree. Then came commencement.
I signed up to receive my regalia for the ceremony and was so proud to be able to wear my orange and blue hood and represent the University of Florida. I wished it could have had Albert the Alligator stitched on there.
When I signed the paper to get my cap and gown from the lady at the bookstore, while she went to retrieve it, I noticed the page that I had just autographed had the names of many other college employees on it and next to their names, just like mine, was the indication of which type of robe we each were to receive, doctorate, master’s, or bachelor’s. I happened to notice that of the thirty or so names on my same page, there were two bachelor’s degrees. Two. One of which was mine, of course. ALL the others were for advanced degrees – and this is at a Community College! It was at that point that my non-diagnosed (but likely) PTSD from losing my TV job kicked in full force. I knew right then that if I wanted to stay with my present employer, which I do, much less move up, then I needed to be able wear a robe with long arm flaps as well.
Which leads me to this blog. Bringing it into existence is my very first assignment from my very first class in the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications’ graduate program for Mass Communications with a focus on Social Media. I chose Social Media for my program because, first and foremost, I am a communicator, and I honestly think that virtually every organization with which I am associated, work-related or otherwise – and there are many – can benefit from a stronger social media presence. I believe this program will help me to help them. It’s not all altruism, as I have a couple of small business ventures of my own which I know can benefit as well from me becoming an expert.
Regarding the blog, I will use it to speak about things going on which I think you should do if you are able (participate in events, support causes/businesses, get to know certain people, do fun things, etc.); tell you about great things you should not have missed; tell you about the lame things we should not do; tell stories because I am a storyteller; and tell my UF classmates/readers what my professor(s) tell me to. I know I will have opportunities to tell (hopefully interesting) stories and share (hopefully helpful) experiences with my younger classmates via this outlet, and I believe the program will teach me how to effectively market and make an impact on the many organizations and causes I care about.
Thus, my adventure begins…