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My Economy

From Ph.D. to freelance writer, trying to make it as a journalist

Bennett Purser Apr 22, 2019
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Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

My Economy tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.


Jennifer Mabry is a freelance journalist.

Education has long been seen as a ticket to more prosperous circumstances. That’s definitely what Jennifer Mabry thought after she completed her undergraduate education and then earned two advanced degrees. After earning a Ph.D. in communication and starting work as a journalist, Mabry has seen two recessions, layoffs and a lack of diversity in newsrooms that has barely budged in nearly 20 years. Today, she is freelancing and finds work in the gig economy while still looking for a permanent full-time job in the media industry. 

My name is Jennifer Mabry, and I’m a freelance journalist. I attended a historically black college in Mississippi for undergrad, my parents’ alma mater. I did know I wanted to get an advanced degree before I started my profession, so I applied to schools in D.C., and I received a full fellowship to earn my Ph.D. in communication. I just knew that education can help move one forward, that’s like a cornerstone of the black community. If you get your education, you have upward mobility in America. So I didn’t think that it would hinder me in any way. I thought it would help me.

I make my living freelancing. I have a few national outlets that I write for. I pitch stories and I also work odd jobs. So last year I had five different jobs.  I just continue to apply for jobs in academia and jobs that are related to journalism. To me, a job is when you earn a wage. A career is when you earn a salary and benefits, and you have purpose and fulfillment. But I came of age learning in an analog age, not digital. And those two things sort of overlapped as I was coming into the workforce.

I always believed that people retire because they hated their jobs. So I wanted to have a job that I would love to do because I never envisioned myself retiring, and I definitely don’t envision myself retiring. I can’t see my way to a future because that was not what I envisioned for myself, based on my past.

This series only works with your help. Let us know how your economy is doing using this form and your story may be featured on a future edition of My Economy.