Defying the Odds

One thing we learn to do, and do well, at Athabasca University is research. We research everything?largely on our own?whether programs, courses, professors, or researching for our papers within the courses. This ability to dig and dig and dig and find reliable (sourced) information and opinion pieces is vital. However, is it possible to over research something?

In my opinion, yes. When prospective English majors research job opportunities post-grad they will find loads of information about setting that degree aside as a display piece only and getting a completely unrelated job. This has the potential to sway what you study and encourage students to get something more practical instead. The percentages are unfavourable to landing a job with that degree.

Recently I have been researching publishing information and all information points to dismal odds: 1% (when going the traditional route). These numbers are frightening, the odds of being able to make a living at writing if you manage to get into that 1% are also slim. The odds of being able to land an internship and find a job afterward: slim; making a decent salary: slim. These numbers are daunting they are enough to deter someone from trying to pursue these dreams.

For me, does knowing these numbers stop me? No, but they are distracting. They make me question what I am doing and if I should be doing it. They are enough to cause pause. Over-researching something could stop me from pursuing it. When I started looking for and applying for internships the odds of getting one were small, I had one condition that narrowed down my field of possibility substantially and increased the number of applicants: a remote internship. I’m not moving to New York for six months for an unpaid position (or even paid). But it was something I wanted and there was the possibility of getting one that I could do from home.

I applied to several. And each time I was edged out by someone whose opinions aligned more with the agent’s than mine. These positions are a matter of personality fit and qualifications, making them harder to get. But, nevertheless, I persisted, and eventually found an internship which I have been working in for a few months and will be for a few more. It has been incredible.

Had I listened to everything I researched there would have been a distinct possibility that I would have thrown these ideas out the window and found a more practical job in a nearby town. If I had done that, it would have been the end of the dream, between the bookkeeping and adding a full-time job plus commute time, there would have been nothing left at the end of the day to pursue the possibility of an internship, publishing, or various jobs after the internship in the publishing world.

If there is something you want to do, something you are passionate about, then yes, research it and inform yourself but don’t let the numbers drive you away. There is always going to be the possibility of failure, but also the chance at getting something you love. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you tried. But don’t quit because the numbers are not in your favour, don’t walk away from a dream because the chance of success might appear small. Find out what it takes to get into that 1% and fight for it. Put the time spent researching the possibility of success into how to break in and become a success story.

Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at

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