I probably have to move to New York, but I can’t afford it.
No, you don’t have to move to New York. But you do need a professional network and, ideally, a staff job. For some people, New York is a good place to find both of these things. It’s not the only place, though. The internet makes it easy to collaborate on side projects with journalists you know, to ask for introductions via email, to listen in on what your professional idols are talking to each other about on Twitter. If you don’t live in a city with a lot of journalists, you probably have to be more active about meeting and communicating with your fellow journalists digitally. But rest assured you can make good work and find great colleagues elsewhere. I’ve done all of my best work thousands of miles from New York.
All entry-level journalism jobs look so boring my brain might atrophy. Writing tweets? Copyediting? Factchecking? Covering city council meetings? No, thank you.
A lot of people love these jobs! But point taken. You have to think of your first job this way: You’re in a great position to soak up all of the information you can about how the higher-ups make editorial decisions—and about how your employer does business. (You might end up becoming a publisher.) This firsthand knowledge of how media gets made is going to stand you in good stead no matter where you end up. I learned a lot at my entry-level jobs, even if it didn’t seem valuable it at the time. Another valuable thing about a starting journalism job you find too easy is that it probably leaves you with some after-work time to pursue your own projects. Get together with your fellow under-utilized grads and make something on the side. Or try to create something on your own. Every big step up in my career has come not as a result of something I’ve done on the job, but something I’ve done outside it.
I feel like I have such a long way to go.
If you’re the sort of person who’s always striving to make better work, this is not a problem that will be isolated to the stressful months preceding graduation. You’ll always feel like you have different or more interesting work to be done elsewhere, that this isn’t your last stop. That’s a good thing.