(Editor’s note: this is part two of a look at the career path of a well-known Atlantan.)
If you or a loved one is looking for a job or a career, the views of the person we profile here may be of interest.
Last week we told you this person’s first job at age 14 was counting S&H stamps, followed by summers counseling children and training as a social worker. Here’s the rest of her story.
“I did journalism for my high school and college newspapers but I didn’t think that would be a career because I didn’t see people like me doing it. So I got a job as a bank teller, but was told that a woman would never be a bank manager.
“Eventually I was hired at the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times as a newsroom clerk. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Columbia University and the Ford foundation started a summer program for minority groups, because when white reporters went into those riot-torn areas they were not treated well.
“I signed up for the first print class, landed a reporting job at the newspaper and that was the beginning of everything else.”
After a stint in public relations, she got her first TV job at WHAS-TV in Louisville, where she reported and anchored for three years. It wasn’t long before WSB-TV here hired her. That was in August, 1975.
Now, Monica Pearson is retiring with about every honor and award ever bestowed on a major market news anchor, including 30 Emmys.
I asked Monica to share her thoughts that might be of help to young people entering the job market or who have a job they hate.
“First, stop looking at it as something to hate. Instead, think about what you can learn from this job that is applicable to something else.
“Also, remember that just because you don’t like your job, you never know who you may meet next and how they may have some influence on what you do next.
“For example, when I go into fast-food restaurants and people are nasty to me, lazy in their jobs, I tell the manager, ‘I hope you’re not looking at them for management training because they are not worthy.’
“Don’t look down on any work. If you want to work in public relations but can’t get a job in PR, then volunteer with United Way. You’ll be practicing what you want to do and making contacts with people who can help you get your next job. I believe in volunteering while you’re working in that sucko job.”
I asked Monica what she says to young people who tell her, “I want to be on TV and anchor the news.”
“I say, if you want to anchor, then I don’t want to talk to you. They look at me, like, what? I say, because what you’ve got to love is being a reporter, being a storyteller, because there are a lot more jobs behind the scenes than there are anchors.
“If you don’t love to do the research, the writing, the interviewing, then you should want to be an actor or actress, not a reporter. Your calling should be covering the news. Then, if you get to anchor, good.”
For anyone hoping to get into TV news, that’s the best advice you’ll ever get.