Aspiring Reporter Struggles To Hold Onto Her Dream

Earlier this year, AOL Jobs solicited resumes from our readers as part of our "Employing America" Jobs Week Resume contest and we splashed the winning resumes, as voted by our readers, on for millions of prospective employers to see. This Jobs Week, we caught up with a few of the winners to see how their job hunts had progressed.

When Kara Schultz was 8 years old, her summer camp took her and her fellow campers on a tour of the NBC studios in New York. The NBC page asked the kiddies if anyone would like to read the teleprompter. Schultz immediately volunteered.

The rolling print, the rapt eyes, the lights, the cameras, the suspended silence, except for her own carefully cadenced voice. From pre-puberty on, Schultz's dream was carved in stone. She was going to be a broadcast journalist.

Schultz knew it wasn't the easiest of aspirations. To make your living as "the on-air talent" requires a lot of perseverance, hard work, and drive. She was on it.

In The Right Place

While studying Media and Film at Kean University, she became the student station manager at the campus TV station, hosting the biggest campus events from Homecoming to the LollaNObooza that inaugurates every school year. She provided commentary for sports games, and interviewed such diverse movers and shakers as New York Yankees Pitcher Mariano Rivera and the pop/rock band Cartel.

Always restless, Schultz also became an on-air entertainment and sports reporter for the campus radio station. She seemed to be on the track to fulfilling that childhood dream. "It just made me want to graduate and get into the industry," she says.

After graduating in 2008 with AERHS National Broadcasting Honors, Schultz did just that. She segued immediately into a job at the chart hits and classic rock radio stations, WHT Z100 and WAX Q104.3, both owned by Clear Channel Communications.

She wasn't on-air, but was in the right place -- organizing station contests, assisting live broadcasts, and managing on-site events. Then in January 2009, less than a year into the job, Clear Channel laid off 3000 employees. Schultz included.

Suddenly, a high-achiever on the fast-track was an unemployed recent grad with a dream that seemed a little dopey in a wrecked economy with record-smashing youth unemployment.

Schultz started waitressing. She worked at an Express clothing store in a mall. She sent out hundreds of resumes. Over a year later, in a desperate click, Schultz posted a Facebook status, asking: Does anyone out there work in the entertainment industry? Because I'm looking for a job.

Facebook To The Rescue

Baby boomers often criticize Facebook for being a phony assembly of inflated egos oversharing with not-actual-friends. But Schultz's oversharing paid off. One of those not-actual-friends came to her rescue: her brother's friend's girlfriend whom she'd met at a birthday party over a year before.

The brother's friend's girlfriend worked at Sony Music Entertainment, and she got Schultz a job.

Working at a global music company was better than the mall, but Schultz was still on the wrong side of the industry. She's a "New Release QC Analyst," which means tracking and promoting Sony's artists online. She makes sure music videos get into the right digital hands, and through copyright checks, out of the wrong ones.

But Schultz isn't one to let the now 17-year-old dream die. She shelled out $1,999 and flew to Los Angeles to attend the L.A. Reporter's Clinic's four-day course. The LARC helps aspiring on-air reporters build a demo reel, which they can then send to different casting directors. Schultz staked out Halle Berry's house, reported an accident, and prowled the red carpet at a film festival.

But now she's back at her desk job. It's not ideal, but at least she's employed, and working in the entertainment industry, where she hopes one day to be a recognizable face. "I've learned so much about the business aspect of the industry," she says, "I'm grateful for it."

But she'll be even more grateful when she gets to where she wants to be. Living the dream always feels better when you've labored for it, and the past few years have only made Schultz more sure of her goal.

"I'll appreciate it when I do become a broadcaster," she says, "that I'm doing what I want to do."

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