One of our friends who works at the local L Brands store gave us an interesting question last week. He wanted to know how easy it would be for him to transition from being a L Brands employee to being an investigative journalist. The fellow is a trained journalist (I think he actually has a Masters degree in journalism) but he couldn’t get a job in the media upon graduation. Unable to find a journalism job, he decided to apply for an entry level position at L Brands, and he was lucky to find it. He then gradually worked his way up, from the entry level position to the mid-level management position he currently holds. But his passion has always been in journalism, and now he is considering making a transition from being a L Brands employee, to being an investigative journalist. He was thus seeking our advice on how easy we thought it would be.
We told him that it wouldn’t be easy.
For one, having become used to the straightforward (uncomplicated) life of a L Brands employee, he should expect the fast-lane life of an investigative journalist challenging. The life of a L Brands employee is, for the most part, governed by the aces scheduling system, and it is mostly a 9 to 5 type of life. On the other hand, the life of an investigative journalist involves venturing into very difficult terrains, dealing with difficult people, having to be woken up (by ‘sources’) at all sorts of odd hours… and so on. It is not an easy life, and it would be crazy to abandon the comfortable life of a mid-level L Brands manager in favor of the unpredictable life of an investigative journalist. That of course unless he has a very deep passion for investigative journalism.
Secondly, it would probably take him a considerable amount of time for him to get established in investigative journalism. Upon venturing into investigative journalism, he would probably have to start at the bottom of the ladder. It would then take him quite a number of years before getting established in the field.
Thirdly, we told him that investigative journalism is not as thrilling as one would imagine from outside. Sometimes, one is assigned stories that are dour. At other times, one is assigned stories that are impossible to give good results on. Sometimes, sources cheat you. Sometimes, the subjects you are investigating try to bribe or intimidate you.
In the final analysis, we frankly told him that he shouldn’t expect the transition from being a L Brands employee to being an investigative journalist to be easy. But we nonetheless told him that can still make the transition, if that is what would give him utmost fulfillment.