A friend and I were recently discussing life and missed or squandered opportunities. We all have them, those times where opportunity knocks and nobody is home.
We live in a time of entitlement, where even children feel that things are owed to them. Why wouldn’t they? Most children in North America today are lucky enough not to be hungry, to have plenty of toys and doting parents. So the question is, if we raise our kids to expect everything, how can we possibly expect them to appreciate anything?
When I was 14 years old, I wanted nothing more than to be a reporter in radio and print. I started chasing the dream and literally drove the program director of CJAD and the editor of The Suburban in Montreal insane. Finally after much persistence I landed a column at The Suburban, for no pay. I wrote for them throughout high school and didn’t make a penny, I did it to learn the trade, to gain experience and most of all for the exposure.
By the time I was 18 the Suburban was paying me for my work, I was on track to landing a job at CJAD radio (which lasted 12 years) and by the time I was 25, I was considered a veteran columnist/reporter having been in the business over 11 years.
The one thing I never did was look down on any of my professional experiences. There were many times that I wrote for different papers and didn’t get paid. There were times where media outlets used me to further their goals of delivering a good show or news, and of course there were times where I was kicked in the face by unscrupulous owners and bosses who made promises they refused to keep. Through it all, I thanked them for the opportunity, for the learning experience and most of all for the life lessons I learned from them.
As one of the more popular English shows on Radio Shalom, I constantly throw the door open to people who have an interest in radio to come and gain practical experience by working (for free) at a fully functional AM radio station. When I was young, I would have killed for such an opportunity, yet it always shocks me when young aspiring journalists come in and show no ambition to do anything or take the opportunity for granted.
I guess I’m getting old and a bit crotchety, but I get awfully annoyed when I see people with great potential wasting it away by not taking any initiative or working to improve their skills. When opportunity knocked, nobody was home.
While I wish everyone success and happiness, In my opinion, people who don’t sacrifice for experience, people who put no effort into improving themselves in a community environment will never succeed in a commercial environment.
Unfortunately they will spend the rest of their careers telling the story of how they were taken advantage of for years at a community station for no pay and then screwed by a commercial station as an intern for no pay, and are finally unemployed, unemployable and bitter.
It’s a sad commentary, but that’s what happens when you don’t recognize opportunity.