Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can you make yourself a star? You'd better

I got an e-mail early last week from one of my favorite journo-grads who needed some help. He was working at a Boston weekly and they needed an intern, fast.

This is a good small paper, and, with the mayoral election coming up, it was a great opportunity for someone to work with a good editor and get some clips.

Only classes were out, and everyone had gone home.

By coincidence, a student in my magazine writing class, who lives in a Boston neighborhood, had been asking me about internships, and he had just sent me his resume. He had proven himself a good reporter and a pretty good writer in this class, even though he said he'd almost dropped it because of the work. I wrote back to the journo-grad that I would send this student his way. By the next day, he had the internship.

The moral of the story is to put yourself out there, ask teachers for help and start your network right now. Don't wait until you graduate. In this job climate, that is way too late.

I saw several students graduate this year without any significant extracurricular experience, internships, or any real connections to the faculty who could help them with their post-grad issues. That's a waste of their education.

They were among those who viewed UMass as "the last hurrah," four more years of having fun before they had to be pushed out into the real world. They put off the hard work of building their networks and thinking about what they wanted to do for careers.

A better way to look at UMass is four years of building your network, gaining experience, learning all you can--even taking the harder classes, to position yourself for the opportunities that come your way. You can still have fun, believe me.

Your network starts in your classes, with your teachers and classmates. Show them what you can do. Be a leader. Go to every class. Do the reading, and get the assignments done on time. Do that, and when someone calls looking for a job posting, internship or other opportunity, you'll be at the top of the list.

In this economy and the current job climate, only the stars will get where they want to go. Make yourself a star.

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