martedì, dicembre 09, 2014

A professional life. Chapter 2 – The Black Hole

(An introduction )
I want to follow the advice of a CEO. Pull in your professional history, reflect on it several times and come up with a captivating report, overtaking a little the boring summaries of a CV. I will take this challenge splitting the story in different chapters. This is the first release of chpter number two. It tells about the troubles of my first academic research.
Follow the tag “professional bio” to get all the chapters. 

By the end of the university, I had become a top student. The top results had become my standard result over the last two years of my Mass Communication program. If that had not been enough to enhance my self confidence, the top results came together with my first job assignments. I was therefore very confident about my final research. Let's say I was ambitious about it. Unfortunately, my confidence was based on wrong assumptions.

Suddenly, I realized that I was a devoted student, but I had no idea – really, not one bloody idea – to write about. I had become a master in reporting someone else idea, but none of these ideas were mine, none belonged to my world. I had never read a book beyond the ones recommended, I had never dared to talk to someone on the field, I had never collected an original statistics about on-going trends.

I had the feelings that I would have never have written any thing worthwhile. I had no positive vibrations about doing research; only negative sensations about a book I was supposed to give birth to. I felt so little in front of the magnitude of the task that the depression took over. A deep, dark depression. Literally, I saw everything black. I was so discomforting that no one, not even my best friends, could stand me longer than five minutes. Horrible.

Luckily enough, as a supervisor I had a professor who did not mind about over charging his students. In the initial short meetings, he was insensitive enough to ignore my depression, kick off my stupid proposals and throw in a massive empirical research about the communication of science on the Italian mass media. “Do you feel like inquiring into science communication? - he said – Well, first let's have a look at what is going on. Get the five main Italian newspapers, select the copies of the last six months and scan how and where genetics and biotechnology are reported on the national media”.

The initial task was massive but easy. So easy that even a fully depressed teenager could accomplish it. I took my mind to the library, on average ten hours a day, and I kept my mind so busy that it forgot about the depression. I was exhausted but I was able again to stop by my sister to get a coffee early in the morning and step out for a beer late in the evening. I was not simply able to talk. I was able to talk about my topic. Slowly, reading over and over again my news, I realized that I actually knew more about them than most of the people around, including my professor to a certain extent. If I were Joyce, I could call it “Epifania” :-)

Well, I have never become Joyce since then, but I am still proud of the story that I worked out. The narrative parallel that I traced to connect the news-making on genetics and biotechnology with some literary archetype was original. No on had ever figured it out before. It was a moment of full joy and total happiness.

I can still remember the first day off I took after a never ending rush of several months among libraries and video archives.  I wen to the Cinque Terre in Liguria. I felt the happiest man of the world. I stared at the fishermen harbor in Rio Maggiore and began to reflect on my time off right after the graduation. I came up with a plan. Of course, the plan did not come to work. My plans often work indeed, but hardly ever the way I originally conceived them. While I was thinking about a fluid word ahead, my first serious job interview was scheduled.

domenica, novembre 16, 2014

A professional life. Chapter 1 – Landing in the first job: from zero to bees

(An introduction )
I want to follow the advice of a CEO. Pull in your professional history, reflect on it several times and come up with a captivating report, overtaking a little the boring summaries of a CV. I will take this challenge splitting the story in different chapters. This is the first release of chpter number one. It concern the first step into the professional environment. 
Follow the tag “professional bio” to get all the chapters.


Chapter One
The first job dates back to 2002. By the time, I was attending the fourth academic year in mass communication at the university of Bologna and, staring at my fellow students, I slowly realized that I had a professional network close to zero. Literally, while many friends of mine were already applying for their future jobs, I had no clue about the world out there. No surprise. Till then, I had entirely failed to grab the relevance of the topics I was studying.
I guess two main reasons had brought me to that stage. On the one hand, I had to get used to the fact of living on a city. It may sound amazing, but in those days to me it was new and I had to get used to an unknown world. On the other hand, I had grown up in a craftsman environment in the country side. I used almost to feel guilty about my subject: communication. What was the point of it in the end, why should have people paid me for that? For what, for writing? I took quite some time to get over that stage and sometime I am still revolving around it.

However, I finally moved on. I followed the footsteps of o a friend of mine, Alessandra, and I joined a small team working on the new web world. The team, called “Chiocciola”, was updating two websites: one for Coop Adriatica – Buonpernoi.it -, the second for the Marino Golinelli Foundation – Ticaebio.it -.
I remember my first introduction to the boss, Paola: “Professionally, I am zero. I distributed phone books and I worked in a printing factory. Never done anything before in the communication sphere”. I wonder if it makes sense to be so honest in a job interview. Nonetheless, in that occasion, honesty paid back. I was appointed an internship.

My job was to redesign a civic journalism website – ProfessioneCittadino.it – and moderate the forum. I took it so seriously, as if it had been the dream job of my life. The effort was rewarded. The internship was converted into my first temporary contract. Commonly enough, I believe, the temporary contract implied writing about two topics I knew nothing about: short stories about biology for kids and pieces of news about how to take care of pets.
Pets were the first topic offered to me. I was so surprised by the offer that at first sight I thought it was not for me. “I have a friend of mine studying to become a veterinary” I said. Thanks god, the poor answer did not ruin down the opportunity. “I need someone good at writing”, Paola said to me. A couple of months later, I was writing a full dossier about bee breeding and honey production.

Driving my sister's Panda to the interview sites, I must say I felt a young promising reporter. In a few months I had moved from zero to bees, forging a bright perspective to my professional development. I was so happy and proud that I did not notice the clouds of my final academic essay approaching. Dark times were just ahead. 

(to be continued...)