Trying to find your way as a new photography graduate is like being the new kid at school. Middle school in particular, because we all remember how unforgiving and ruthless the middle school environment was.
The New Kid On The BlockWhen you are the new kid you have no friends, but everyone else who has been there for a couple of years already has a group of friends. You know what I’m talking about; they are the kids who have been going to the same school since kindergarten and they always stick together. They giggle uncontrollably down the hallway about some inside joke while you shyly clutch your textbooks and step aside as they pass. You want so desperately to join in on the fun, but the problem is, they don’t want to know you. They already have their people, so why do they need you? To them, you’re just some weirdo they have never seen before, and who is in the way. They bump your shoulder as they go by, but that’s about the extent of your interaction.
They go about their happy little lives without you and it makes no difference to them but it means the whole world to you. Your whole life and your happiness depends on entering into their social circle. Otherwise, you will go home after school, crying to your mom, saying how you don’t have a friend in the world and you might as well just drop out. Time and circumstance have ripped you from your own comfortable little world and dropped you into a new place with no experience, totally frightened, and completely alone. The reality is, no one is going to make your friends for you. Only you can do that.
However, all hope is not lost. It is possible to make friends with these people, you just have to learn how. Somehow, you miraculously survived middle school, so you can surely survive life after graduation, too. That’s not to say there weren’t the occasional mishaps or embarrassments here and there before your last day of 8th grade, but you eventually made friends and found your way through school.
I’m talking, of course, about the photography job market. A possible comparison I found for the photography industry is the pack of “popular” adolescent girls at your friendly neighborhood middle school. If you want to be a part of their clique you have to romance them. You have to make yourself known at every possible opportunity, and you have to be likeable. You see, I am new to New York and even after a year, I still feel like the new kid. But one thing I’ve learned from being here, and getting my foot in the door, is that your greatest asset to finding employment is your personality. Ultimately, people want to be around other people they like. You could be a top-notch student with 8,000 internships and know Photoshop like the back of your hand, but none of that matters if you’re an asshole.
So relax a little and know that everything is going to be okay if you just do you. I’m the new kid too, so I get it. It is my hope that by sharing my own experiences about trying to find my way, that I will help even just one of you, someone out there in the sea of photography graduates, to find the confidence to keep going. That’s right. I said sea of photography graduates. There are so many people with photography degrees out there that you have no choice but to stand out. The only thing you have that nobody else in the crowd has is who you are as a person. So let your personality shine, and keep checking back with me for advice on how to get in good with the popular girls. Like I said before, it will all be okay eventually, if you made it through middle school, you can pretty much make it through anything, and that’s the truth.