Sunday, March 8, 2015

This and that on the job and internship application process

We're heading into primetime for job and internship applications, so I thought I'd post some links that might help you either find a job or internship, or make that application the best it can be.

Here goes.

This post by Katherine Goldstein says everything I could say and much, much more. Read this once you have your cover letter draft done, and then revise accordingly.

Here's Matt Thompson on 10 Ways to make your journalism job application better than everyone else's. 

I'm telling first-year students and sophomores to have a strategic plan for that "third semester," aka "summer," in terms of building up to a competitive internship after junior year. To compete for the big ones, you'll need experience and clips at smaller outlets. And, as this useful post from points out, not just "a handful" of clips, but a really large body of work, whether that consists of stories for the Collegian or Amherstwire, or video clips.

When you have a large body of work to choose from,  it enables you to be more selective when you're looking for your best five clips to submit with an application. Plus, you're more experienced and skilled at the craft.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Internships, free money and paying it forward

In the next month, we head into the thick of internship application season. If you're a junior, this is the summer in which you want your "capstone" internship--the one that's going to be at the top of your resume when you graduate. Quite often these internships can only be found in places New York, Washington, or Boston. All. Very. Expensive. Places. To. Be.

Here's what I tell people: Don't let the lack of money stop you from applying. You may not get the internship. Or you may ultimately decide that you can't afford it. (And it's definitely not the greatest situation: paying to go work for free.) But apply anyway. I can pretty much guarantee you that the internship will change your life. And then: apply for an internship scholarship. You'd be surprised at how, sometimes, you can find the money to do things you need to do. We are fortunate at UMass to have alumni who have donated money so that current students can get the workplace experience they need.

Where are the scholarships?
Internship scholarships are offered at two levels: the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which has its own application process, and in the Journalism Department.

SBS Scholarships
Scott J. Bacherman Internship Award
Scott J. Bacherman '76, was a prime force in making WMUA one of the top college radio stations in the country. After his death in 2002, his family, under the leadership of Journalism Department adjunct Marc Berman (Scott's cousin), established these scholarships  for students taking unpaid internships in the field of broadcasting, media convergence or affiliated fields during the summer or fall semester of 2015. Eligible students will have majors in journalism, communication or BDIC, or be actively involved in WMUA, WFCR, UVC-TV/19, The Daily Collegian and other campus media and entertainment organizations. Evidence of internship placement is required. Please note: seniors graduating in Spring 2015 are not eligible to apply.
Average award: Two or three awards of up to $2,000 to support a student taking an unpaid internship in the field of broadcasting, media convergence or affiliated fields.
Deadline to apply: April 1, 2015.

Connor Internship Award
Communication major Paula Connor Meyer ’86, established this scholarship in honor of her father, who did not have the opportunity to attend college. It supports students who are taking unpaid internships in the summer or fall. Preference will be given to communication majors with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and who take unpaid internships that closely fit their professional interests. Evidence of internship placement is required.
Average award: Two awards of up to $1,800 will be made in the spring.
Deadline to apply: April 1, 2015.

Merriam Internship Award
Sociology major Dwight Merriam’68, established this award to honor the memory of his aunt Oreana Merriam, who taught for many years in the Home Economics Department at UMass. This award supports students taking unpaid summer or semester-long internships in public policy, law, ecological conservation, and/or real estate development. Preference will be given to juniors and those who have financial need as determined by the UMass Amherst Financial Aid Office. Candidates must be in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Evidence of internship placement is required. Please note: seniors graduating in Spring 2015 are not eligible to apply.
Average award: Two awards of up to $1,500 will be made in the spring.
Deadline to apply: April 1, 2015.

Northampton Radio Group Internship Award
This award supports a student taking an unpaid internship at Northampton Radio Group during the summer of 2015. This award is open to all full-time UMass students. Please note: seniors graduating in Spring 2015 are not eligible to apply.
Average award: One scholarship of up to $4,500 will be awarded  in the spring.
Deadline to apply: April 1, 2015.

SBS Internship Award
This award supports SBS students who will complete unpaid internships in the summer or fall. Candidates must be in good academic standing with at least 45 credits. Preference will be given to students with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and those with financial need. Evidence of internship placement is required. Please note: seniors graduating in Spring 2015 are not eligible to apply.
Average award: Approximately 5-10 awards of up to $2,000 will be made in the spring.
Deadline to apply: April 1, 2015.

Journalism Department Scholarships
Please watch the Monday Memo for news about deadlines for these applications. 

The Thomas Family Internship Scholarship
Sponsored by Elisa Thomas '95, this award which goes to a journalism major taking an unpaid or underpaid internship in the field of emergent media. Elisa and her family have established this scholarship to encourage students to work in new media. Elisa is currently director of digital education at Estee Lauder in New York City. This $1,400 scholarship is awarded on the basis of the internship, demonstrated financial need as determined by the Financial Aid office, and grade point average.

The Dandley Internship Awards
Established by Sean Dandley '85 and his family, these awards will go to journalism majors with unpaid internships during the next academic year. Students must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and demonstrated financial need. (Dandley, the CEO of DSCI Corporation in Waltham, is also the benefactor of an equipment fund for the Journalism Department.) Two or three awards, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 will be given each year. Preference will be given to students participating in ROTC or in the military.

How do you apply?
Most applications will require a solid resume and a cover letter or essay. You can find a good resume model in my Career Tips handout, on the right hand column of this blog. And we have put together an invaluable page of advice with all kinds of tips for how to create a winning application.

Tips from an essay application reader
You are writers. So your essay matters. Please read this. Twice. And follow the advice. Don't wait until the last minute to write your essay. Build in time for revision and proofreading.

I've spent the past 10 (or is it 15?) Marches and early Aprils reading scholarship essays and cover letters. Here's what bugs people: typos! Poor grammar. Badly-organized essays. You want this essay to be authentic, but don't be arrogant or presumptive. Tell your story. Be sure you convey your goals with this internship. Scholarships are a form of investment, and we want to invest in people we know will use this funding to the best advantage. Also: really read the award requirements, and be sure you meet the rules.

Good luck!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Career tips roundup

We're halfway through this semester's Journalism Launchpad class and the "How are you doing?" check-in board has gone from despair to cautious optimism. Love that! If you're about to graduate or looking for an internship, and you couldn't fit the Launchpad Class into your schedule,  check out the books we use in this class, What Color is Your Parachute? (I actually prefer the 2013 version...) and The Success Principles.

Here are a few online resources we're also looking at as students are identifying opportunities and preparing their resumes and developing their interview chops. (Practice, practice, practice.)

Do you talk too much?  It can kill you in an interview, and it can  hurt your career.

The Muse is a great little site with some good posts about careers and job hunting. Here's one with some great tips on how job hunters can and should use social media.  You can also follow my Journalism Launchpad Twitter list for more tips:
If there's a company you want to work for, you'd better be following it on Twitter. Here's a Mashable post on How to Find a Job on Twitter. 

Also from the Muse: This is what a video resume should look like.

And this: Five TED Talks to watch before your next interview.

From American Journalism Review: Four Skills Newsroom Recruiters Wish Candidates Had. 

How to Break Into the Magazine Business.

If you will be meeting with me for help finding a job or internship, do some homework first. I'm telling job hunters to check out the job boards on the right hand column of this blog and start hunting around. If you are looking for media jobs outside of New England, check out, where you'll find lists of newspapers, television and radio stations by state. Go west, young person! Reach out to previous internship supervisors for leads. Get networking. In the Launchpad Class, students are required to speak with ten people each week about their goals. Think about it. In one month, you will have spoken to 40 people. Got to be some opportunities in some of those conversations. That's what networking is all about.

You should also do a saved search on Career Services website with the keywords that work for you. (See my online video tutorial below for help in this.)

I'm telling people to come to me with a list of 15 places you want to apply, along with a full resume, prepared like the model in the Career Tips handout in the right hand column here, and a basic cover letter. You should also have a solid Linkedin Profile and  a Pressfolios page or Wordpress site with clips of your work. That's a good start!

Then come see me.

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.