Friday, August 20, 2010


I need to make a little correction to my last column. I do have a job, it's just not really my dream job. (And that's not really even true because I technically have two jobs.) I start today at my old job in Urbana. Before I moved to Chicago the second time, I worked for about a year as a Barista at Strawberry Fields. It's were I learned how to love coffee and it's part of why I'm obsessed with food. Such interesting people shop their and the atmosphere is very relaxed. It will be nice to work there again, although it does feel like one giant step back. Like the last five years never happened.

But that's not what's important. My important job, the job that will keep me sort of sane for the next however long, is my stringer job. I'm writing for my home town newspaper, the Piatt County Journal-Republican. Don't try to find it online, because it's not there. I've been writing a column for them for the last year or more, but now I'm writing actual news stories. And it's wonderful.

At first I scoffed at the idea of writing for such a small paper so close to where I grew up. I came at it with a fairly arrogant and impertinent attitude about the whole thing. "Why should I bother with crop yield?"Aren't I better than this story?" [Actual story I just wrote: Piatt county corn and beans count.] But what I found their was amazing. Crop yield deeply and profoundly effects the whole town. Without a good corn crop the town economy would plummet and the world would starve. But not only that, these people are some of the nicest people I've ever met. They genuinely care about growing food and feeding the world. The meeting shifted toward the worlds natural disasters effecting crops, Russian drought, Pakistani flooding. An old man spoke up. "Who's going to feed those people?" It was a very touching question that woke me up out of my urban ego. This is why I'm doing this, to tell stories about people like this, sometimes it's important to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sense of the City: In Search of a Job

[I'm changing up my column a bit. No longer being in the city I can no longer write about city life. So I'll try to write about my job hunt, including tips from professionals who found their dream job and career counselors who help others find theirs.]

This oppressive heat is beating me down. It's getting to be that I can't leave the house. Even the cool respite brought on by the storm does nothing. But the heat is not the only thing that feels like it is breaking me. A job search is full of rejection and living at home can feel like failing.

I've been looking for a reporter position at a small town newspaper, anywhere in the world, for a few months now. Eventually I keep telling myself, I'll make my way back to the big city. But first I need to get to that starting position. One small paper in New York told me they received over 400 resumes.

Many people are going through this same problem in every job market. More people with better experience are fighting for fewer jobs. And the grind of sending resumes, fielding phone calls, going to interviews can be a bit much.

I was supposed to be the one who got the job quickly. I have the right work ethic and some skill in reporting. All my teachers told me I would go far, and I feel like I've failed them. But I guess everyone else is going through the same thing, I know at least 400 of them are.

I suppose this is not the right time to focus on negativity. Negativity breads more negativity, and soon you're swirling through a void of depression and self-doubt. Then, not only are you full of these bad feelings, but you're not getting any work done.

It's easy to fall prey to these feelings in this heat, sweat pours down your back and the sun bakes your brain inside your head. But we can't let it win. What's the point in sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. Instead we can strive for something better, whether in the community or in ourselves.

I know there are people reading this who are going through similar situations. I would like to hear from you. Tell me your story and your techniques, and maybe I can pass it along and help other people, too.

Dylan Heath grew up in White Heath. He just graduated and is searching for a job in Journalism. He can be reached at

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Travel Article

The News Gazette published my travel article about my sailing trip. It's not online at all, so I scanned it in.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A New Sense of Home (Sense of the City)

Perhaps the best part of taking a long trip is finally returning home. After seeing amazing sights, tasting amazing food, meeting amazing people; you start to see home with new eyes. Everything is as new and delightful as what you've seen on your journey, only colored with a sense of familiarity.

On the drive to Chicago, the skyline pops-up out of the tangle of on-ramps and freeways, and the first red line stop appears long before any well known landmark. If this sounds familiar to you, it's because I've already written about this scene in one of my first columns. Coming from the south is still one of my favorite ways to see the city skyline.

When I first wrote about it, it was filled from a sense of coming home. Now, I feel a bit of happiness from returning, but mostly I feel sad that I will soon have to leave my adopted city. When I pass the red line, I get goosebumps. When I see the skyline, I am flooded with happy memories. When I get on Lake Shore, I roll the window down and turn up the radio and smile at all the different faces that I see.

My sailing trip was meant as one last hurrah before I have to start my new life, whatever that will be. The only thing clear is that I can't afford to live in Chicago anymore. And besides, if I want to eventually live there and work as a reporter, I have to move away to work my way up through the ranks and back to the city. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Though out this year and a half or so, I tried to bring a little bit of the greatness I see in Chicago to the area. I tried to show that there really isn't much different between the two places. I don't know if I succeeded. Perhaps with a little more time, I could have. But I can no longer write what I see or feel or smell or taste or hear in the city if I am no longer there. This is not my columns distraction, more of an evolution. I hope you will see my byline in this paper again.

My life is changing drastically, one way or another. My writing will have to change along with it. It might take me some time to find my footing, to get used to my new world. But I will, and I'll find my new voice along the way. After all life goes on. And I've got new eyes, and a new sense of home.