Thursday, November 20, 2014

Take the launchpad class this spring. Really.

What do you want to do? Where do you want to do it? How do you get there? If you've been asking yourself these questions, take The Journalism Launchpad class. It's open to sophomores, juniors and seniors, and it will help you figure things out.

Only take it if you want an internship now or a job after you graduate.

Journalism 497G. We do some guided self-examination homework over the break. The class meets once a week for five weeks. There's a lot of reading, but it's all reading that will set you up with career and life management skills you'll use for the rest of your life.

We cover: figuring out what you're good at and what you love, finding the jobs that match your passions and skills, creating a great resume, portfolio and LinkedIn profile. Also: effective networking and money management (yes, I'll even tell you what a 401K is. ) Plus, we have a lot of fun. Just take the class. You will not regret it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The job you'll have doesn't exist yet. Here's how to get it.

A fun story this weekend in the New York Times about the Denver Post marijuana critic Jake Browne. No, really. This is a thing. Here's the takeaway:
Mr. Browne, 31, is the first marijuana critic for the newspaper — which means he is paid to smoke and review pot.
And, over at Vice,  another writer covers the "Weediquette" beat. 

The Denver Post also has a marijuana editor, Ricardo Baca, who not only covers the weedy waterfront, but also produces a newsletter on the topic called The Cannabist.  

Now you could argue that this is one more nail in the coffin of journalism of substance. But Colorado is one of two states that is engaged in a grand experiment: legal marijuana. This has spawned phenomenon like "weed weddings" and cannabis tours. 

And reports like this one. 

Also, social ills, as this Redditor pointed out in a recent post asking Colorado Redditors about the negative aspects of marijuana legalization.
[–]zbobet2012 818 points  
Here is one that most people don't think about, or bring up, but working in downtown I see quite often. Homelessness is up. No really, there is a significant number of young homeless people who moved to Denver for the legal weed.
The local homeless person population in Denver was a lot of really down and out people. A city with frequent sub 0 (f) (-18c) nights isn't a great place to be homeless. Since the legalization though I see a lot of people begging who easily fit into the "drifter" category, though with winter starting to come on strong some have started to move on.
 So there's a lot to write about pot in Colorado.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Come on, go for it! Summer internship application season starts now

If you're interested in applying for the more competitive summer journalism internships, you need to bet busy. Now! These internships generally have fall deadlines instead of spring. Here's a list, compliments of The Poynter Institute.

Please come by my office or sign up for an appointment, and I'll help you with resumes or other aspects of your application.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Easy video tutorial for Career Connect search

Lots of people have been asking me about how to find an internship or job. Here's your first step: a search on the  Career Services Website. 

In fact, even if you're not looking for a job or internship, Career Connect can give you some ideas about what employers are looking for so you can get the skills you need.

Check out my video tutorial , which I created on Jing, a really cool, free platform, and see if it works for you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Don't be a jerk and other work tips: Take it from an intern, summer 2014

Each summer, as part of their summer internship assignments, UMass journalism students must write a post about what they learned over the summer, and offer advice to their fellow students about the workplace and/or the internship process. It's a good way to share information.

Here's what they wrote last summer.

Below, see this summer's crop as they start to wind down their internships.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Job search chronicles session 1: professional credentials

I'm posting job search tips over the next few weeks for those who were not able  to take the Journalism Launchpad course this semester.

Here are the professional credentials I advise people to develop in my Journalism Launchpad class.

1. A functional resume. This is a little different from what Career Services advises. I recommend it because it emphasizes your skills, and gives you a chance to sell these skills to an employer right out of the box. You can find a model of this resume in the Career Tips handouts on the right hand sidebar of this site.

2. A solid LinkedIn profile. Spend some time on this. (You'll find LinkedIn advice in this blog, read through the posts!) Develop a well-written and edited summary with lots of keywords, and an emphasis on your solid skills and results.  Get a good professional photograph. Talk to profs or former employers or internship supervisors and ask to Link In with them, and ask if they'd provide a recommendation for you on your LinkedIn profile.

3. A digital portfolio with links to your published work. You can do this with a simple Wordpress site, or with a site like Pressfolios. Be sure to put a LinkedIn badge on your page. Get the code for your profile at Your badge size options and the code is in the lower right hand column.

4. PDF's of ten of your best clips, in case an employer wants them printable. These should include breaking news, enterprise stories, features---a range of your best work--stored on Dropbox so you can access them anywhere and e-mail or print them as needed. This gives you the flexibility for employers who want hard copy.

5. Business cards. You can get these at Staples, or online at On this card, you should have the LinkedIn address and your portfolio address.

6. A Google Plus profile.

Here's a post from Romenesko about how graduating journalism students should present their clips to potential employers. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Frank Sinatra had a cold in 1965 and we're still reading about it

Years ago I was vacationing at a little hotel in Desert Hot Springs, just north of Palm Springs. The place had a bar and several hot spring pools, and during the afternoon happy hour, people would buy their drinks and soak with the other guests in one of the pools.

People get to talking in such a situation, one guy, a local, talked about what it was like to grow up in Palm Springs. He told a story about going to Frank Sinatra's house one afternoon while he was in high school, and a girl knocked over one of Frank's knickknacks, which was part of a set and actually a valuable ceramic. The girl was terribly embarrassed and sorry about it, but when Frank found out about it, he told her not to worry about it and  knocked over the other one.

"Wow!" I said. "Frank! What a guy!"

A few days later, I realized that I had actually heard that tale before. Actually, I had read it; it was one of the dozens of anecdotes in Gay Talese's classic 1966 Esquire Magazine story, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. Had my hot-springs friend actually been there, or had he, like me, just read that story?

Fifteen years after his death, Sinatra remains an icon (fedoras look ridiculous on everyone but Frank), and this story remains one of the greats for reasons both journalistic and cultural. First is the fact that Talese creates a detailed portrait of Sinatra while actually never directly speaking with him. (See the Nieman Storyboard conversation with him about this, below. It's surprising!)  Second, it conveys the kind of L.A. cool that embodies that time in the culture. Plus, it's fun to read.

After all, there aren't many magazine stories that people are still reading decades later, or that have their own Wikipedia page. 

There's also a cottage industry around dissecting this story because there's so much interest in it. All the pieces below add up to a portrait of the work and the changing nature of magazine journalism over the past 50 years. A writer would have a very difficult time producing a story like this today, given the power of publicists and their ability to dictate access and terms of stories.

In his introduction to The Best Essays of 1987, Talese writes about the piece, and anyone who's working as a freelancer today will envy the amount of time he had to report and write...and the size of his expense account.

The folks at the Nieman Storyboard sat down with Talese last year and went through the story, asking the question every writer asks while reading it: "How did he get this?" Here's the piece. It's terrific!

And here is a really interesting writing artifact: the dry cleaner's shirt board that Talese mapped out the basic outline for the story (!)

The pool room scene looms large here.

Well, you've just got to read it.

But here's what Talese told Katie Roiphe about the scene:
That night I’m sitting at a bar around ten o’clock, watching people, and sure enough I notice Frank Sinatra sitting down the corner of the bar with two blondes. Sinatra goes to play pool and I witness a scene between Sinatra and a guy named Harlan Ellison, and I write it down on a shirt board. But I don’t get it all, so I go up to Ellison and ask him if I can talk to him the next day. He gives me his phone number and address. When we speak in person I ask him not just what everyone said, but what he was thinking. I always ask people what was on their mind. Were you surprised by Sinatra? Had you met him before? Did you think he was going to hit you, or did you want to pop him? 

That exchange and that reporting led to one of my favorite sentences in this story:
 And three minutes after it was over, Frank Sinatra had probably forgotten about it for the rest of his life -- as Ellison will probably remember it for the rest of his life: he had had, as hundreds of others before him, at an unexpected moment between darkness and dawn, a scene with Sinatra.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pumping up your job search with social media

We're nearly halfway through the Journalism Launchpad course, the five-week, one-credit course that prepares journalism student for the job or internship search and the personal finance issues that come up after graduation.

Each year I have to change this course up to accommodate changes in technology and employment trends. And each year,  social media grows in importance, both for your job skills and qualifications, and for actually finding a job. Today's biggies are LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

New to LinkedIn? Here's Cat Knarr's HuffingtonPostPost on 8 Secrets to Building a Stunning LinkedIn Profile. Read this. I learned some new tricks here.

And this site, always has interesting material. Here's a really great post on  How to Get More LinkedIn Connections. New things here for me as well.

Want to get totally up to speed on social media? Take this free, five-week online online course, Social Media for Journalists: The Basics, courtesy of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Some random comments from my reading or conversations with employers:

I don't even ask for a resume anymore. I want to see an applicant's Linkedin profile, his or her Twitter feed and a two-minute Youtube video on why I should hire him or her.  No comment needed, right? And while we're on the topic of Hire Me Videos, check out this viral number, Google Please Hire Me. Very funny. But. Back to LinkedIn. It can be a super-powerful tool, and most students don't use half the potential. Take some time and get under the hood with LinkedIn. One Launchpad student is getting job inquiries from local employers since she added "social media" to her skills keywords.  You can also link to your online portfolio. (Need one? Try PressFolios.)

Jobs have moved away from big job boards like Monster and over to niches. Here's SmartRecruiter's list of 50 Best Job Boards.   The list on this page includes boards for sports,  book publishing, and even jobs and internships in Hollywood. (And follow these sites on the Twitter.)

If you're looking for a marketing job, don't bother applying unless you have at least 2,000 Twitter followers. Especially in public relations and marketing, employers want to know that you not only understand how these tools are used, but you're using them all the time yourself. Use it and Tweet smart things, like links to stories you're interested in. (I've also had students get interviews with sources through Twitter.) A lot of students put social media skills on their resume, but you need numbers to back this up. You also need to understand and stay up to date on social media metrics. Here's an earlier post on this topic, with a little primer.

My company doesn't advertise jobs online anymore, we only broadcast through Twitter. Think about it. If you're running a company, why would you hire someone who wasn't interested enough to follow you?

If you're looking for a job or internship, or want to share with fellow students, here's our hashtag: #journolaunchjobs. And please. Follow me, will ya? I need to get up to 2,000 followers. And fast.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lessons from the Launchpad: Join a professional organization

I'm posting this semester with tidbits from the Launchpad class, for those who couldn't take the course for one reason or another. The goal of this class is to prepare students for the job and internship hunt, to look at career options using your journalism degree, and to figure out your personal finances.

I was going over a student resume, and noticed that he had once belonged to a professional organization, but had let the membership lapse. We talked about this and took a look at the website for the organization. We found lots of resources that he could use, including a job board, a mentoring program, scholarships and lots of other information about the journalism business.

This morning he wrote to tell me that he had re-enrolled in the group and was immediately invited to a networking event this spring. By the time he graduates in two years, he'll have a network ready to help him find a job.

So this is one step that can really pay off. Join a professional organization while you're a student. The sooner the better. Get onto their blogs and Facebook pages. Link in with them. Go to their conferences and events. This is how you build your network.

Check out organizations like:

Or take a look at this  exhaustive list of organizations put together by the folks at the Cronkite School at Arizona State University.

You're bound to find at least one organization that would be happy to have you as a member.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Big fat internship update

Keep coming back because I keep updating this post every time I open my e-mail box.

Terry Michael, who runs The Washington Center for Politics and Journalism is  looking for candidates for spring semester--deadline is Nov. 8. This is a phenomenal program, which puts you into a newsroom in DC, along with weekly seminars with journalists and newsmakers. It's super-selective (read the Times! Every day!) but it's free and there's a $3,000 stipend to boot. So check it out and come see me if you're interested.

The American Society of Magazine Editors Internship program deadline is December 10. These internships are at major magazines in New York, for the summer. Colleges are asked to recommend only two students from each program, and, although you can apply yourself, applicants recommended by a journalism department are given preference over students from the same school. So if you are looking for a recommendation, please get in touch with me.

My pal @NPRAudie (are you following her? You should be.) just tweeted me:

Oh, and Audie Cornish? She's an alum who started right where you are, worked hard and made things happen.  NPR's new studios are very awesome, so check out these opportunities. 

The most competitive internships have fall deadlines, so I'll be posting news as I get them.
The Washington Post Internship program has a deadline of November 4.

The New York Times internship program deadline is October 31. 

Alum Andy Rosen '05 has always wanted a UMass undergrad to earn the PAID internship available to seniors and grad students at The Baltimore Sun, where he works. He writes:

 if there's ever anything I can do to help a Minuteperson, please let me know. This is a great opportunity though.

Please tell any student to feel free to contact me with questions about this or any other internship here.
So let's help him out! Andy's email:

The Public Service Fellowship Program at the Partnership for Public Service  offers internships in Washington, DC. Fellows' duties vary across the Partnership's internal teams (see website), but often include: event planning and execution; research, writing and preparing correspondence; and outreach to external partners, such as government agencies and colleges and universities. Spring program deadline is November 1. Summer deadline is early March. Learn more and apply here. 

Come see me if you are interested in applying; I can help you with your application.