Because adults are so wise, I suppose I should have much to offer the class of 2014. But truth be told, my hope is that parents, teachers and other mentors have given this year’s graduates the skills they need to make good decisions. After that, I’m OK with leaving the class of 2014 to find its own way.
But to the extent I have any advice, it is this: Unless you’re independently wealthy or marry into millions, you’re going to need a job sooner or later. Choose one that you will enjoy.
The newspaper industry has changed much since I graduated from college in 1983, and not all of that change has been easy. But I can honestly say that I have fun every day I come to the office.
Much of that fun comes from learning useful information about my county – where my tax dollars will go in the coming year, the newest places where I can dine and shop, how our county’s high school football teams fared on Friday night. The fun comes too from working with words – those submitted by readers for church announcements and the like, those written by reporters and correspondents, and my own words, though that is more like work than fun.
I came of age during Watergate, when two Washington Post reporters helped bring down a corrupt presidential administration. So early on I settled on a career I knew I would enjoy. But as I quickly learned, where I worked was just as important as what I did for a living.
For reasons I have never really examined, I was miserable in my first newspaper job, suffering a severe case of the blues every Sunday because I dreaded going to work on Monday. But in the spring of 1984, I landed at the Benson Review and Four Oaks News, where publisher Ralph Delano and his family put their faith in a 23-year-old newspaperman. A little more than two years later, I came to the Smithfield Herald, where publisher-editor Wingate Lassiter, a history major, taught me more about journalism than any textbook or professor.
In both Benson and Smithfield, I have had some long, hard days. In Benson, I once got to work at sunrise on a Tuesday and left at sunrise on Wednesday, and that was just to get a shower and breakfast before heading back to the office.
But since the spring of 1984, I have never had a Sunday where I dreaded going to work on Monday. Graduates, I hope you can find a job like mine.