About a month ago, I got a new student who is looking to increase her skill base in order to make a career change from a pharmaceutical industry office job to a job in journalism. This is her dream job and she's currently got her toe in the water transcribing taped interviews for a lifestyle magazine as a freelancer.
I've spoken to her a few times about why she hasn't been able to get the writing job she wants and she said that the piece she submitted to the publication she wants to work for was "evaluated" and she was told she doesn't have enough "skill". When I asked her what about her skill was lacking, she told me that she couldn't offer the ability to speak English, work with Adobe Illustrator, etc. When I asked her what specifically was wrong with her writing since she didn't need any extra skills beyond a proper writing style to submit articles, she just went back to saying the company said she didn't have sufficient skills.
Since I worked at a job for over a decade where I worked in authoring, copy editing, laying out, and doing graphics work for publishing books, I can see where a company might want someone who could deliver a broad package of abilities. However, my company was a small one which operated on a tight budget and not all publishers do everything in house. In fact, my student told me that (she believed) the magazine she was hoping to work for had separate divisions for things like design so she didn't think she'd have to deal with much beyond writing.
In the end, I talked to her about some of the steps that lead from content creation to final product and noticed that she was relatively ignorant of the process. She had a vague notion that there was content in Microsoft Word document files which got put into Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator and, voila, instant magazine. Despite the fact that she wanted to work in the publishing industry, she was unaware of what went into making a magazine and was utterly unaware of desktop publishing software of any kind and the role it plays in 99.9% of publishing. (I don't say 100% because some people do short-length publication layout in Adobe Illustrator only.) In the end, I rather wondered if her ignorance of the industry was part of what was preventing her from getting the job. Perhaps the company wanted people working for them who at least had some idea of what was involved even if they didn't personally need to perform those tasks. After all, knowing the process helps you understand the limits and specific needs of jobs that are interconnected in producing a final product.
This situation reminded me of the fact that, when we're young, we all have dreams of things we'd like to do but we often have little understanding of what it takes to achieve those dreams. We look at the final result or the aura of success or glamor surrounding a job and say, "I want that," but don't think about or know the hurdles we have to jump through to get there. Sometimes I wonder if part of what kills dreams is that you find out that the path between forming the dream and realizing it require a lot more effort and is a lot more tedious than imagined. By the time you do what it takes to make a dream come true, it's made the transition from something lofty and exciting to the mundane status of "job".