3 Ways I Launched My Career As a Journalist By Working on the Set of Chicago PD

Attention Aspiring Actors, Writers, Performers, Speakers, and Entertainers:

Beware. Anything can happen on set at any moment.

The Director could give you speaking lines that can instantly change your pay scale, you could fall in love with the guy sitting across from you, or you could get exposed to a skill or career path that you’ve never even considered before.

It happened to me – well 2 out of the 3 scenarios actually became my reality. But I’ll only reveal 1 compelling story now.

It was Fall 2016. I was on the set of one of my favorite tv shows, Chicago PD.

I received a BOOKING email stating that I was selected to be an on camera TV news reporter….again! This was becoming the norm in my world -capturing the latest stories in my jazzy journalism dress, heels, and trench coat.

Before I was called to be on set, I made use of my time in holding. I was in the holding room with my fellow background celebrities (thanks for the awesome title James Gordon!) doing what I always do – typing away on my computer trying to put together a spicy new article that would appeal to the Modern Day Career Goddess.

An older gentlemen noticed my fierce focus and asked, “Wow I haven’t seen anyone around here with a laptop in a long time. Are you a writer?”

I told him I was on a mission to write 500 words a day and I was working on my 50th article in only 4 months.

He couldn’t believe his ears. And he just had to ask me, “Are you getting paid for all of that??? If I wrote over 50 articles, I would make at least $35,000. I used to own a freelance writing business. You should too!”

My eyes lit up (my ears and hair did too!). Cha Ching! Did he say business? Paid writing gigs? Where do I sign up???

One conversation changed my path. And the bonus: I had an additional source of income that would give me the flexibility to spend more time with the ones I loved. It was just what I needed.

So here’s what happened in the months following that eye-opening conversation on the set of Chicago PD:

1. I Started a Freelance Writing Consulting Business

Since December 2016, I’ve worked as a copywriter, journalist,  health & wellness columnist, and blog content writer – and I don’t have an educational background in writing. Nope! Nada. I studied Accounting & Finance at DePaul University.

Words to the Wise: Don’t allow your educational degree to limit your career aspirations. Your unique degree can actually be your competitive advantage in the marketplace.  Just because you studied one thing doesn’t mean you can’t excel in something else. No limits!

It’s unbelievable how many writing opportunities have come my way – especially since I told my coach in 2015 that “writing was not my thing”. She recommended that I start blogging frequently to build my brand as a speaker, consultant, and Career Goddess. Despite my hesitation, it worked! I now have over 100 published articles all over the web and have worked with clients all over the world including AICPA, Your Coffee Break, Got Print, and a ton of small businesses.

Who would have known that my writing pursuits would have evolved to become a freelance writing business?! I didn’t! It definitely wasn’t in my 10-year plan.

Being on the set of Chicago PD has taught me this: you have to be open and flexible. You never know where your next opportunity will come. One bold action can lead to a lifestyle that aligns with every desire within you.

2. Black Enterprise Added Me As a Contributor

After I started admitting to myself that I was a writer (it took a long time to convince myself!), doors started opening – even a door that I thought would be nearly impossible to unlock without any connections or a background in writing.

A few weeks after starting my freelance writing business, Black Enterprise (a national online and print magazine for black entrepreneurs, professionals, and small businesses) was willing to test out my skills. My first article, “Need More Career Fulfillment? Travel Before You Retire“,  garnered multiple shares and over 40 comments.

So Black Enterprise added me to the contributor team! Using this platform, I have had the opportunity to interview College Deans, accounting firm Partners, Millennial Ph.D. graduates, pageant queens, tech innovators, and entrepreneurs. I’ve loved every minute of it!

Some of my articles have been listed as featured stories on the Black Enterprise online page.

This Millennial CPA Gave Up Her Corporate Benefits to Pursue Her Dream of Earning a Ph.D.

And then the Executive Managing Editor at Black Enterprise notified me that my article about Memphis Media Mogul Cynthia Daniel was ranked No. 1 on the Black Enterprise site in August. Wowsers!

Click here to read “She Lost Her Job, And Then Made Over $80K in Profits During Memphis Black Restaurant Week“.

Note: I didn’t become a contributor overnight. It took a lot of patience and persistence. When you have a goal you want to accomplish, you just have to keep going until you make progress. Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you get something better.

Now that’s story of living life as an aspiring actor, right?

You gain a lot of grit when you’re surrounded by creatives who trade in the security (false security) of a regular job for a dream that has so many twists and turns and an unknown arrival date.

3. I Tapped Into the World of Travel Journalism 

It’s not a secret: I’m a travel junkie!

I love the thought of exploring a new land, meeting interesting people, and getting lost in the beauty of all.

While I was on the set of Chicago PD, my desire to travel kept creeping up on me every time I talked to my fellow background celebrities in holding. We talked about past travel adventures and future travel aspirations.

It was so stimulating to talk about the other parts of the world that awaited our arrival. So I created a LOVE board of things I loved to do. Travel and writing were at the top of my list.

I thought about traveling frequently. And my amazingly (why do I make up words???) supportive King can attest to this. When I would call to tell him about my day on Chicago PD, I couldn’t end the conversation without telling him my travel wish list.

His final words before concluding our conversation would be, “If that’s what you want, then we will make it happen”.

A few weeks later, I received an opportunity to participate in my first assignment as a travel journalist. I went to the best restaurants, stayed in great hotels, and explored the fanciest festivals that were taking place.

A few months later, I did two assignments in St. Louis as a Forbes Travel writer.

Both travel writing opportunities were a dream come true that I got the chance to experience with my love!

And now we get to write about our couple travels on www.blackcoupletravels.com. We’re on a mission to bridge the gap between romance and finance.

My freelance writing resume and portfolio is off the charts now. In less than 90 days, I took my freelance writing resume from nonexistent to irresistible ( I guess those are some of the perks of being a resume consultant! My supreme resume makeovers help me create endless opportunities and allow me to help more people make more money).

So, there you have it! That’s the story (well some of it). I have two more articles to complete and one more resume update for a client so I had to cut the story.

But if you have any questions, I’ll be in a safe, quiet spot pouring out all of my emotions on my computer screen (so don’t disturb me!).

Just kidding. You can join the next “Profit from Pageantry” webinar to find out more about how you can profit from your passion. There are so many opportunities out there. And yours may arrive on your door step at the most unexpected time. That’s what happened to me thanks to Chicago PD!

Charlene Rhinehart

I’m Charlene - International Speaker, Published Writer, & Career Strategist. I help women skip the most common career mistakes, move from fear to confidence, and enhance their professional profile so that they can create a life that is better than their dreams.

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