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 LinkedIn.com/profiles/public-profile-settings. 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 Vistaprint.com. 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, SocialMediaToday.com 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: AndyRosen44@gmail.com

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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

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.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Food for thought about...food writing

In my 301 class we're moving into our unit on writing about food and agriculture issues, and this semester, students are reporting on a wide range of topics, including the moves by the local Swartz Farm into big-time hydroponic farming on a Bronx rooftop (wow!) to local land preservation activities to a story on the UMass Chicken Group, students who raise chickens. 

There is so much cool stuff going on at UMass around food and sustainability, and in the Pioneer Valley, that this is a great time and place to be a food writer. 

Food writing as a genre used to just be a mix of stories and recipes published every Wednesday. Not anymore. Food reporting now touches on every aspect of American life: health, culture, economy, public policy and politics. Journalists like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman,  Marion Nestle, Kim Severson and  Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, have shown us that you can produce great work and provide great service as a journalist around this topic.

There are also some great documentaries. King Corn is a terrific examination of the corn economy. The two young producers tell the story by driving out to the Midwest and growing an acre of corn. Food, Inc. is another good documentary on the industrialization of agriculture and its costs to us as a nation.

We've watched Food, Inc., we're reading Fast Food Nation, and we're visiting the Food Bank of Western Mass. this week to talk about hunger in our region. Here are a few things I've come across in the past week that relate to our topic that you might find interesting as well.

Democracy Now featured a report that details the cost to taxpayers of the low wages being paid by fast-food companies like McDonald's, which, in 2012,  generated profits of $5.5 billion. Here's the report. 

From Democracy Now:
New research shows more than half of low-wage workers at fast-food restaurants rely on public assistance to survive – a rate double that of the overall workforce. According to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, low wages in the fast-food industry cost American taxpayers nearly $7 billion every year – that’s more than the entire annual budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A companion report by the National Employment Law Project found McDonald’s alone costs Americans $1.2 billion annually by paying its workers insufficient wages. Last year the top 10 largest fast-food companies alone made more than $7.4 billion in profits.

And there's a lot of talk about chicken in the aftermath of the recent salmonella outbreak at a poultry processor in California. Mark Bittman asks Should You Still Eat Chicken?
And New York Times columnist Nick Kristof asks,  Are Chicks Brighter than Babies? As a chicken owner, I would say, my hens are pretty dang smart. They have me trained, anyway.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Internship links you can use

This week it's all about the links. I thought I'd put together the different links people have been sending my way.

Check out Internship King...it's a combination internship search site/Yelp for internships.

And a student passed along this one from Forbes.com, The Top 75 Websites for Your Career. 

Another student pass this one along, from Fast Company: How One Industrious Undergrad Tweeted, Photoshopped and Hustled Her Way into Her Dream Internship.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Video-storytelling an important skill, wherever you want to work

As this New York Magazine story  points out, video is a growing part of the digital strategy at the Times these days. The paper has hired dozens of videographers to build its content, just after having laid off many reporters. 

Lately, some of the most powerful video newsreporting I've seen has come not from a television network or cable newscast, but from video packages produced by a newspaper. These packages combine the rigorous reporting of the traditional print journalist with the sounds, sights and feel of the actual material being covered, making them almost mini-documentaries. While the network newscast must tell a story in two minutes, these packages have the luxury of time and digital space.

Two packages I've come across take the viewer deeper into the issue of inner city violence.

Chicago Under the Gun, produced by the Chicago Tribune, looks at the toll of gun violence in the city.

And this Post-TV video from washingtonpost.com tells the story of Curtis Mozie, who lives in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Mozie is a true citizen journalist who has documented on video the lives and violent deaths of the young men in his neighborhood. He produces DVD's of his work for the mothers of the dead to help them remember their sons.

Both of these packages are sometimes difficult to watch, and also difficult to forget. It's hard to imagine that a text-only story would have the same impact.