An Essay on JOTW’s 10th Anniversary

An Essay on JOTW’s 10th Anniversary

Mike Sorohan

Ned Lundquist, ABC, recently brought to my attention that JOTW reached its 10th anniversary. He need not have reminded me, for I’ve had it circled on my calendar for quite some time now, in red, with cartoon hearts and exclamation points. I haven’t been this excited since my first Kelly Clarkson concert.

Ten years! And to think, I was there at the birth–and what an ugly birth it was: a prolonged labor; a difficult delivery; a great deal of blood and other fluids; and lots of cursing and screaming (followed later by heartfelt apologies and “I really didn’t mean those things I said about you,” endearments).

If truth be told, the baby was ugly. It didn’t even look like Ned—the font was wrong, for one thing. But Ned didn’t care; he paraded it around the Internet like an overbearing mom on “Toddlers and Tiaras” and insisted that JOTW would fill a niche that, like a Chilean mine, needed a parallel tunnel dug next to it, then be sealed forever.

Ten years later, JOTW has not only fulfilled its mission, it has thrived. If JOTW could be on a Pee-Wee football team, it would be the overachieving quarterback who reaches puberty before everyone else, scoring seven touchdowns a game, leading the defense in tackles and interceptions and handling kickoff duties. If JOTW were a Boy Scout, it would be the youngest Eagle Scout in history. Twice.

Not that there haven’t been growing pains. There was the One-Paragraph Pitch that ran longer than a Harry Potter book (even the person’s name was long). Recently, controversy raged like a Southern California wildfire about whether whimsical non-communications jobs such as “Sewer Technician–Hastings, Nebraska” should be listed. Then there was the Canadian Border Incident, which resulted in JOTW being banned in Saskatchewan for three months. But I digress.

Over the years, JOTW has linked thousands of communications professionals to thousands of job openings. It offers advice for the lovelorn (K.I.S.S.—Kommunicators In Search of Someone); provides career advice to those who ask (thanks in part to a “Dream Team” of handpicked professionals who, when they’re not actually doing what Ned asked them, operate like a Secret Ops Oprah Book Club); and engages in meaningful philanthropy, such as collecting books for a communications center in Ethiopia. And it has alerted us to the dangers of shipping piracy, reminding us that if we ever decide to quit our communication job and buy an oil tanker, we should exercise caution while navigating the Somali coast.

It speaks volumes that many of the thousands of professionals who subscribe to JOTW aren’t even looking for jobs. They see JOTW as a networking opportunity; a chance to keep their ear to the ground about communication trends; a forum to discuss ideas; a source for advice and feedback. Employers have come to rely on JOTW as a front-line resource to reach thousands of engaged, top-notch communicators who knew what “social networking” was before Mark Zuckerberg got out of diapers.

JOTW serves as an agent of change in an era in which change is a constant. It prepares us for change; nay, it insists that change is not something to be feared, but rather, something that should be wrestled to the ground and forced into submission. Someone—I think it was me—once said, “Life is too short to be stuck in a job you don’t like.” JOTW is a tool that empowers us to take a step back and say “I deserve better.” And we do deserve better (actually, I really like my job, but I’m using “we” in a collective, networking sense).

Ned has put together issues of JOTW from all over the world—Ethiopia; India; Korea; Italy; Sweden; Iraq; even Texas. By listing jobs from all over, Ned has shrunk the world and helped communicators expand their possibilities. Why run a listing for a job in Belgium? Well, why not? Haven’t we all dreamed of moving to Belgium and speaking Phlegmish? Haven’t we dreamed of eating fresh Brussels sprouts, instead of settling for frozen?

For 10 years, JOTW has dared us to challenge ourselves, to think outside the box, to think outside the block, to think outside the confines of our current geography and to consider our role in a global context. Sure, we are just one person out of seven billion, but JOTW reminds us that we are the most important person and that we can make a difference—just as long as we remember to put the “l” in “public.”

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