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Ask Jules: I want to make a podcast but worry I’ll ruin my career

(María Alconada Brooks/The Washington Post; iStock)
3 min

Hi Jules: I’m on track to attend a top law school next year and can’t decide if it’s worth risking my professional reputation to make content in my free time. I have always been extremely cautious about my digital footprint, but I also have FOMO due to friends and colleagues always telling me I have the perfect personality for making content. Whenever I start to favor one side of the decision tree, I can’t help but feel that I’m closing too many doors compared to the other. I wouldn’t be making anything inappropriate, likely just a podcast, however I worry that putting myself out there could pollute my professional reputation. Obviously, this is a personal decision, but I just wonder what your opinion is on the matter.

— Kai

Kai: Living with “what ifs” is an absolute “no” in my book, so it’s time to stop talking and make a plan: What is your “why?” What do you want to share with the world? What can you provide an audience? What do you hope to gain?

Your friends saying you have the perfect personality for making content isn’t a good answer to any of those questions. Fifty-four percent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 38 would become an internet personality if given the chance and probably see the same potential within themselves. It’s important to have concrete answers because, I promise, creating a podcast will not be the cure for all your FOMO.

Online success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and law school isn’t something you want to sacrifice in the process. We’ve recently seen well-known TikTokers and YouTubers say that they’re moving away from creating full-time to pursue endeavors that provide them with more fulfillment. For some, that seems to be continuing their education and for others that seems to be finding an alternative career path that can still complement their love for sharing online.

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You’re not going to know what’s right for you until you try. You’ll continue to wonder for years if you don’t take the leap. As you mentioned, gauge appropriateness and play it safe when it comes to topics and language. You don’t want to share anything that could blatantly affect your career potential when you’re not even sure if sharing online is viable, let alone enjoyable for you yet.

Taking an approach like TikTok creators jordanismylawyer and legalbaddie who have a balance of personal and professional content could be an option. You don’t always need to create some type of alternate persona who’s disconnected from your day-to-day life.

Ultimately, you need to stop looking to others for validation in your pursuits, because while the opinions of your friends as well as future law school colleagues, professors, and potential clients are valuable — they only mean so much. If you put yourself out there online, there will be people who respect what you do, but inevitably there will also be people who criticize you. You need to be so rooted in your “why” that nothing can stop you from moving forward.

You might end up finding that sharing online isn’t your thing, but at least you’ll feel truly confident in that conclusion. Nothing’s worse than looking back and having “what ifs.” Give yourself the opportunity and go for it.

@julesterpak Advice column with @washingtonpost ♬ original sound - Jules Terpak