Getting In

I am 32 and working toward a bachelor’s degree in communications. I accepted a job writing a column for a startup magazine but forgot to ask about compensation and now I don’t know how to bring it up. How do I broach the subject?
— Anonymous, Via the Internet

start. And the way to bring it up is to just bring it up: “What is your budget? “What will I be compensated?” This is not a social exchange; it’s a business transaction.

There can be many advantages to working for free when you’re starting in the industry, but you have to determine how beneficial it will be before you agree to such an arrangement. Maybe you can turn the position into an internship, getting school credit. I suggest taking an internship every semester in different capacities and media. That way you can develop a variety of skills as well as contacts.

The communications/media industry is an interesting one, because it’s all about building relationships. If you study medicine, it’s likely you will become a physician. If you study law, design, engineering, etc., providing successful completion of the program, it is highly possible you will end up in your chosen profession. Not so for communications. Most successes in this field were developed through internships, mentorship, menial jobs in smaller markets, volunteer work, and — most importantly — staying the course.