Here's a note from former Chron writer Marianne Costantinou (edited for length):
Hi. I took a buyout last summer, but believe it or not, I have not even looked for a job. I decided to give myself a year off to decide what I wanted to do next and where. I would love to hear from former colleagues and those taking a buyout now, to hear what they’ve decided to do. I need some inspiration. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, though I haven’t applied for anything yet, I have been trawling through the Internet, to see what’s out there. ... An internal memo from Newsday was just posted on Romenesko. The editor there announced that the paper is looking to hire 10 to 12 reporters this summer. This is pretty extraordinary in these times. This is an excellent newspaper headquartered on Long Island, about an hour’s drive to NYC. Also, Village Voice Media, which owns the SF Weekly and alternative papers in major cities across the country, is constantly advertising for writers and editors; their ads are on their website, and on all the journalism job websites.
I’m in NYC now. It’s media central, so if relocation is possible or enticing, (and, BTW, you CAN receive CA unemployment benefits and live in NYC or anywhere else in the country) I would encourage you to look at the zillions of magazines here, if not as a writer or editor, then as a copyeditor. Times Warner seems to have lots of jobs, and Bloomberg Financial is ALWAYS hiring (and I hear the pay is very good). I’ve also seen postings for AP jobs — including photographers — for cities across the country. Meanwhile, the New York Times is always auditioning prospective copyeditors; they also seem to have a constant flow of jobs for their online site. On their web page at the bottom they have a link to internal jobs, but as you know, not all openings are announced. The Times pays extremely well, by the way, at least 50 percent more than the Chron, while the cost of living is almost the same. (Manhattan has preposterously high rents and forget buying, but you can find Bay Area rents in its boroughs, Brooklyn & Queens.)
Also in NYC, the city’s four-year public university system, known as CUNY, has opened two journalism programs which have advertised for faculty, from professors to instructors. One of the programs is the new Graduate School of Journalism in Manhattan, and I believe the other is at Queens College. Each CUNY campus (and there are at least a half dozen, not including the community colleges) also advertises on its website for instructors in every field imaginable, from English to History to Business, so if you have an expertise, that would be a good starting point.... Also, while in NYC, the public school system has something of a famous Fellowship program for mid-career Professionals where they pay for your Master’s Degree and pay you about $40K for a two-year or so commitment to teach in inner-city schools... Also, tutoring. On Craigslists across the country I see zillions of ads for tutoring jobs; in the Bay Area, you can easily get $50 to $100 an hour teaching kids in their homes. Help with writing papers, the SAT exams and college essays are just the beginning. If you don’t want to be a freelance tutor, places like Kaplan and Princeton Review are advertising like $45 an hour.
One place I think wise to consider, especially for mid-career folks and those nearing retirement, are government jobs. They’re one of the few places we can still earn a pension. CALPERS, the CA state retirement system, is considered one of the best in the country, and you can’t beat the salaries and pensions offered by the city of San Francisco. We have loads of adaptable skills.... If you’re under the age of 37 and have been drug-free for a while, the FBI can use your investigative and interviewing skills, not only as a Special Agent but also as a well-paying analyst. As a reminder, many journalists in the past have gone on to careers as private investigators, especially at private law firms... I’ve also heard of folks becoming Real Estate agents, which, believe it or not, we’re well-trained for.
Lastly, about health insurance: If you are planning to move out-of-state, please be aware that the COBRA payments are almost double, which the Chron offer will NOT cover. ... In New York (sorry, my hometown), the state has a superb low-cost health insurance plan called Healthy New York; if you’re single and you earn less than $40K in a calendar year (or something like that; you can earn more if married or have kids), you get a no-medical-questions asked policy with Blue Cross, HealthNet, Oxford, Aetna or a host of others (your choice) that’s almost as good as the Chron’s. I pay $236 a month, and I’ve got everything but dental, vision, shrink visits.... Also, if worse came to worse and your COBRA payments run out, please remember that Starbucks will provide full medical coverage if you work some minimum number of hours, like 20 hours or something. I know, you’re overqualified, but it’s been the salvation of many struggling artists and freelancers I know. And it can be mindless fun.
Oops, I’ve really gone on. If only I was this productive when I was there. : )
I’m worried about you and feel your pain. Please let me know how you’re doing and what your plans are.
My love to all, Marianne