If Tinah Ogalo, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, isn't in class, she's either at her internship, working at her on-campus job, holding down her executive board position at her sorority or on her phone making business calls and strategically posting online. It’s part of the life as a major in journalism and media studies and a brand ambassador on Instagram.
“I want to be the female Ryan Seacrest,” Ogalo said.
Ogalo oozes style, confidence and drive, but this doesn’t mean she's immune to the fears that plague so many students who get degrees in creative fields and have creative aspirations.
Just within the last couple of weeks, 2,100 people lost their jobs within media, with Buzzfeed, VICE and Huffington Post taking big hits according to The Cut. Furthermore, creative media jobs seem to be dwindling away as Google and Facebook eat up all the advertising revenue. In fact, "according to estimates from eMarketer, spending on digital ads in the U.S. will likely grow this year to the point where it is larger than the amount spent on television, the former Goliath of the industry," according to Fortune.
Media is ever-evolving, and it moves in the direction of money, not what is good for current and prospective employees. With that comes much fear, anxiety and stress, especially for students who wish to go into creative fields. Even with all of these disturbing facts and parents who ask if you “can even get a job with that,” students like Ogalo echo the same sentiment — “competition is fierce, but we're fiercer.”
Briana McLaurin, a Mason Gross School of Arts sophomore, is studying fine arts and art history. Her Instagram is flooded with some of the most beautiful, vibrant and gripping portraits and still-lifes. Still, McLaurin feels that she has so much more to learn, and it’s not enough to just be good, you also have to do and know everything in your field.
McLaurin is a busy artist who has been in multiple showcases, sold her paintings, been commissioned to paint a mural and works tirelessly on her craft. She often stays after class to talk to her professors as she tries to learn from their triumphs and failures. “I just want to paint, I love art,” McLaurin said.
She acknowledges the challenges of being an artist and how work in the arts is precarious, which is why many with a passion for the arts still choose a "safer path.”
Many of her professors were able to pursue their passions within the arts because of their “side hustles,” and that’s exactly what McLaurin, Ogalo and many students with creative pursuits plan to do. Students in creative arts have a multitude of back-up plans and a plethora of jobs to rely on if things don’t initially work out.
McLaurin plans to teach at a college level while working on her own art on the side. Similarly, Ogalo has an array of skills — from social media strategist to writer to video producer — that she can always fall back on until she hits the limelight.
"(Journalism) is a field that some say is dying, but I feel like it will never go away," said Nicole Orlando, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year who aspires to become a news anchor covering politics. “I know that the field I'm going into is competitive, but that's what makes it fun.”
Armani Croft, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, is majoring in journalism and media studies and aspires to become a graphic designer. “I don’t think (creative fields) are necessarily easy or hard — more circumstantial if anything. The market gives my creativity more direction and purpose. I design and create certain things that I know companies would be impressed with," Croft said.
While they see the news and statistics, Rutgers students with creative pursuits are tougher than their aesthetically pleasing Instagram accounts may convey. They have a drive and fire within them that burns bright, and is even more intimidating than the competition in the fields they aspire to change.