10 tips for journalism students who’re job hunting

June 18, 2009

I was there once.

Here’s what I learned through my experiences that I can pass on to you:

  1. Know why you are interested in the job — is it the money, the work, the people, the company name or something else? In all likelihood it’ll be a combination of factors. Remember to factor in your passion.
  2. Be Web-savvy even if your job description doesn’t demand it.
  3. Know that journalism jobs, as glamorous as they might look, don’t pay much to start off with – you really have to love the field to stay in it.
  4. Remember your starting salary dictates future raises – don’t apply to jobs that do not meet your basic salary requirements; it will only cause heartache and frustration.
  5. Research the industry — know the trends, have your finger on the pulse of the next big thing but also be knowledgeable about the history of progression.
  6. Keep yourself updated –- in today’s day and age you cannot use excuses like “technology scares me” to get out of a situation. Use your free time to learn new skills and find new opportunities to use those skills. Self initiative goes a long way…
  7. So does a portfolio of clips.
  8. Create a website or blog to showcase your skills — Just like you Google your prospective employer, they Google prospective employees. Let there be something in cyberspace that leaves a good impression and lets your personality come across. And, remember, to make those “photos of a personal nature” on your social networking accounts private.
  9. Think about your career path, not just this specific job at this particular moment.
  10. With good basic writing skills, you can do a variety of things –- it doesn’t have to be the end of the world if you didn’t get that much coveted newspaper/magazine job to start off your career. Hang in there and continue to polish existing skill sets while acquiring new ones.

Keep your head high. Do what you love … love what you do.

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7 Responses to 10 tips for journalism students who’re job hunting

  1. Mindy McAdamsNo Gravatar on June 18, 2009 at 11:12 am

    No. 5 reminds me of a guest speaker who made a huge impression on me when I was an undergrad. It was in an editing class, and the speaker was an editor at a big New York book publishing house.

    He said he was continually amazed at how many young people who applied for jobs there knew very little about the book business — how manuscripts are acquired, the publishing process, etc.

    He said he had zero interest in hiring anyone who demonstrated ignorance about the field they were trying to break into.

    He also pointed out that there were plenty of books one could find in any library that would educate one about the book publishing business.

    • Mansi BhatiaNo Gravatar on June 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm

      It’s the number one rule of the game, Mindy — no matter which field one is in and regardless of what job one is applying to — you’ve got to know the industry. It not only demonstrates interest it also shows employers that you are aiming higher…shows strategic thinking. As for libraries…faculty can’t emphasize the importance of libraries more. Everything isn’t “googlable.” Not yet, anyway.

  2. mizzkrisNo Gravatar on June 18, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I am a Journalism senior at the University of Oklahoma. I wanted to personally say that tips 1 and 4 helped me. I am currently in a state of uncertainty when it comes to job choices and a career. I will be applying to every journalism job that is hiring, and thanks to the J School, I have Web sites and portfolios started. However, I have had many guest speakers in the business come and talk to classes and say that only about 3 in the class will get a job in journalism, and if we don’t really love it, then we won’t get far because of the fact that the pay is not ideal, as well as the number of people striving for the same position. I had an internship last summer at the local news station, and the reporters were telling me how the pay didn’t equal the amount of work. Maybe it’s because I know the time is quickly approaching for me to start taking care of myself that I make money a factor in my career path, but after reading your tips, and focusing on tip #1 about passion, I now feel a bit more confident that I will be able to navigate through the journalism business fairly quickly until I get to the place that best fits me. No more excuses. This positive advice helps with the anxiety of finding a job in this business.

    • Mansi BhatiaNo Gravatar on June 18, 2009 at 10:57 pm

      I am humbled and honored that this post helped you. It’s a tough industry — one not many people choose to get into, but those who do, go in because their passion drives them and it’s what keeps them there as well. You have to keep faith and remember that if you’re reading and writing everyday, it means you’re sharpening your skill sets. Another important tip: network, both online and in real life. You never know when which connection will pay off. Best of luck!

  3. Ching YaNo Gravatar on July 7, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I always feel a bit intimidated when lurking around pro writers site. (gulp) ^^
    You’ve shared some really nice tips, Mansi. I think they are applicable in many contexts, definitely help in blogging as well. Keep the good post coming!

    Social/Blogging Tracker

    • Mansi BhatiaNo Gravatar on July 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

      Thanks, Ching Ya. Appreciate your comment. I’m trying to make my experiences come in handy for other folks just getting started :-)

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