Sunday, March 6, 2016

Your career is an adventure: Be an adventurer

Last week the Department of Communication at the University of Navarra invited 16 alumni with interesting career paths to share their stories with the students. 

I attended four of the sessions and heard a similar comment from each of the presenters: I never imagined that I would be doing the things I am doing now in my professional career. A journalism major was hired in public relations by a German automaker, partly because he learned German during a year of study abroad. Another journalism major's assignment to cover sporting events, in which he had little expertise, eventually led to assignments covering culture and entertainment, which he loves.

Many unimaginable opportunities presented themselves at unexpected moments from unlikely sources. Professional life for them had been an adventure.

Iñaki Gabilondo, Foto de
Versión en español

The advice these alumni gave also ran along similar lines: You need to be flexible, learn at every stage of your career, and commit yourself to doing the best work you can.

These comments brought to mind an interview I heard a while ago with another graduate of the University of Navarra's journalism program, an icon of Spanish radio and television, Iñaki Gabilondo. He spent two decades at the head of one of Spain's most-listened-to daily news radio programs, anchored a nightly news program and today has a video commentary blog called the Voice of Iñaki (La voz de Iñaki, Spanish).

In an interview for "When We Were Journalists" ("Cuando éramos periodistas") a radio blog by  Olga Ruiz, Gabilondo encouraged young journalists to take charge of their future:

"Look, guys, what's happening now is already past. What will come after what's happening now is not written down anywhere. You need to be the ones to shape what's coming. Don't let others do that without you".

No predictions

Gabilondo, 73, did not want to make predictions about what's coming in media because "predictions from the past are full of errors and futures that never took place".

He preferred to point out that "there are many signs of the coming of extraordinary changes that at the moment we are not able to grasp. We are living with the reality that the big traditional media are taking a nosedive. And we are not yet seeing how some of these new initiatives will make it in the world. But things are happening and new things are being built, which will later affect what will emerge".

Gabilondo alsu cautioned young journalists not to get caught up in the velocity of events and what he called the "hysteria" of instant news. "News is not knowledge," he said. "It's the first step toward knowledge," which requires reflection, verification, and digging deeper.

I have had my own career adventure, which began with a passion for literature that led indirectly to journalism, then a specialty in business journalism, the management of a business newspaper, and now the teaching and training of journalists. Almost all of it was not predictable but had its own logic. It's been a rewarding journey. So let me join my voice to those of my colleagues in saying to young people, Be adventurers.


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