This is not the average career blog post. This is a short journey through my professional arc prompted by a recent LinkedIn article.
The rankings were based on a combination of housing rental costs, starting salaries and available job opportunities.
As a person born, bred and raised in St. Louis but now living in KC, the story caught my attention, professionally.
Personally, it reminded me of the grind of starting my journalism career as a community reporter at a suburban paper in north St. Louis County in 2001.
The North County Journal was once owned by the same company that ran the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for ages.
My first ever assignment was to cover a visit by President George W. Bush. I mean, who wouldn’t want a sitting president as the subject of their first byline?
The Post-Dispatch was a publication I loved to read as a 12-, 13-year-old kid. As a journalist, it was my goal to one day write for the hometown newspaper. I figured I would spend a year or two at the North County Journal, and then make my way downtown to the Post.
It didn’t happen that way. Not at all. Less than six months after being hired, I was fired.
I was 27, fresh back from living in the Bay Area of California and full of myself. In actuality, I deserved to be canned. Insubordination was the official reason. Technically, I was a jerk to my immediate supervisor. That’s never a good idea and terrible for career advancement.
From Aug. 2001 until September 2007, I did not have a full-time writing job. Freelance opportunities were bountiful but unfulfilling and unsustainable.
I worked several odd jobs over the six-year period, including three years as the manager of my uncle’s convenience store and gas station in south St. Louis.
I quit. At the age of 30, I was jobless, temporarily homeless and without adequate, reliable transportation.
Penniless, I moved in with my grandmother on Park Avenue on the city’s southside. It was a place I hadn't lived since I was 18. The experience humbled me to no end.
But my quest to work at the Post never wavered. In 2004, I put together a portfolio of clips from my days as a stringer and applied for a job as a cops reporter.
Naturally, I didn’t get the position. Not enough daily newspaper experience, the recruiting manager told me. Go to a smaller community daily and gain the necessary training, she said.
I was devastated. But undeterred. I still have the rejection letter as a reminder to never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
Years before I moved to Kansas City to take the job at the Examiner, I applied for a job as a call taker for the Kansas City Star, another paper that I dreamed of writing for.
It was a part-time position with minimal pay taking calls from high school coaches and putting scores and stats onto the aggregate page, or what some would call compiling box scores.
Again, the plan was to just get in the building and work my way up to a staff writer. Of course, I didn’t get the job.
That was nearly 16 years ago. Things have changed drastically on the career front. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I am currently an opinion writer for The Star Editorial Board.
St. Louis taught me the art of the grind and hustle. Kansas City gave me an opportunity to grow and hone my craft. I am forever grateful for those experiences. It is no surprise to me that both cities are ranked among the nation’s best to launch a career.