David Jastrow – An Unexpected Turning Point

Shortly after graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, I received a call from my favorite journalism professor. He presented me with an opportunity—I could interview with Computer Reseller News, originally launched in 1982 and published by CMP Media of Manhasset, New York.

Growing up in Cherry Hill, NJ, I had never even set foot “on” Long Island, but next thing I knew I was joining this band of seasoned journalists. I decided to move to Long Beach, a barrier island off Long Island’s South Shore. My logic seemed sound to the 23-year old version of me—it’s nicknamed The City by the Sea and there seemed to be a whole lot of beaches, bars, and bagel shops—what else did I need!

Over the course of the next four years, a band of grizzled journalists, misfits, geniuses, and characters became my family as we covered the dawn of the Digital Age. I wrote hundreds of stories, once got tossed out of a press conference by computer mogul Michael Dell, and was tricked by many of those same friends into thinking that I was going to get the paper sued by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Life was good, until CRN was purchased by London-based United News & Media’s Miller Freeman in 1999 for $920 million. But the dotcom era was booming, and I received an offer from rival publisher Ziff-Davis Media to join a spin-off of the venerable PC Magazine called The IT Insider Series. The position was based in New York City and presented an opportunity to shape a newsletter, conference series, and website from scratch.

Creating a publication from its humble beginning was thrilling, and our small crew was rolling along beautifully about to launch when the dotcom bubble popped. The dotcom era was a period of excessive speculation in the U.S. that occurred roughly from 1995 to 2000, a period of extreme growth in the usage and adaptation of the Internet. It was also a time when it was believed that “old” profit-motivated business models were becoming extinct.

As we now know, the death of balance sheet fundamentals was greatly exaggerated. Once booming businesses like Pets.com, Webvan, Worldcom, Boo.com and USWeb came crumbling down, and seemingly just as soon as it started, the IT Insider Series experiment was terminated at the end of 2000, and my cushy, exciting new job in the city was axed.

I commiserated with my co-worker David (a fellow CMP Media alum) after we were called one by one into the office of our Editor-in-Chief and decided the best course of action was to drink. We visited our favorite watering hole The Back Porch on the corner of 33rd and 3rd. We downed our sorrows in an enormous margarita, which the bar proclaimed as “the largest margaritas in New York City.”

The description was accurate. We stumbled back to the office, and our shaken boss said, “How are you guys doing?” We muttered something like, “Feeling a lot better now!”

I spent a few weeks in my apartment attempting to train my new pug puppy Rufus, but quickly found that to be a futile endeavor. I began flooding the Internet with resumes and writing samples. I was getting nowhere quickly and growing desperate. I was about to get married and my meager savings as a reporter/editor was quickly evaporating.

I thought back to my days at CRN. We were taught to stop at nothing to get a story, even if it meant poking the most powerful people in the technology industry. I realized I was going about this job search in the wrong way.

I discovered a position that sounded perfect with a firm called Simba Information that provided market intelligence, forecasts, and advisory services in the information and media industries. But rather than sending out my resume on a wing and a prayer, I showed up to the offices and asked to speak with the person John who was in charge. Needless to say, he was surprised to have someone personally knocking on his office door handing him a resume. We went to lunch, had an engaging conversation, and I was hired.

Little did I know, this would turn out to be a turning point in my career. After spending four years writing research reports and providing advisory services to large health information and tech firms, I was offered a position by one of my clients. I have since leveraged this opportunity to transition into corporate strategy positions for large Fortune 1000 firms (I apply my writing and reporting experiences every day) recently earned an MBA from Rutgers University, and what once seemed like a door closing has opened up a vast world of new opportunities.

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