Monday, May 6, 2013

Career advice from recent journalism grads

I love opening my e-mail box to see this message line: "I'm employed!"

I've been seeing a lot of those lately from recent grads, many of whom took my career prep course, Journalism 497G, the Journalism Launchpad last spring, or who I've coached during Thursday office hours. UMies always want to help their fellow UMies, so these students almost always send along advice for you guys. Here's a sampling.

From Sarah Hardy:
Sarah came to UMass Amherst from the Pacific Northwest as an exchange student, fell in love with the place (of course), and stayed to graduate.

Last week I successfully moved to Seattle without any stints living in my parents' basement. I'm still working at Starbucks, but I found out today that I was accepted for a six month internship at Seattle Business magazine, which is the top business magazine in Washington. I haven't started yet, but the magazine is a very high quality, glossy publication and the editors have worked for Business Week, the Seattle Times and the L.A. Times amongst other publications.
If nothing else, it should be a great opportunity for networking and it might be a good place for you to suggest to your students if they are looking for internships on the west coast. 
I thought of the Launchpad class during my internship interview when the editors threw me a few curveballs. The managing editor asked me during the interview if UMass offered a journalism ethics class and whether I had taken it (I had). He and the editor-in-chief really stressed the importance of ethics classes, so this might be something to encourage your students to do. I have a feeling that I might not have been as strong of a candidate for the internship had I not taken Raz's ethics class. 
Another thing that I was asked in the interview was who I was reading. This might be a standard for journalism-related interviews but it wasn't something I was prepared for and I instantly forgot every journalist whose work I regularly read (and might have referred to Nicholas Kristof as the "Win a Trip guy"). Suggesting that students regularly read the work of a few journalists and be prepared to give their names and talk about them in an interview might be a good tip for the Launchpad class.   
Additionally, if you happen to have any students who are thinking about going to Seattle for internships or to move here after graduation, you can tell them that it's definitely not a cheap city to live in, but it is extremely livable and I would highly recommend it. Traditional journalism opportunities here seem to be uncommon, but there seems to be lots of job opportunities for people who are interested in PR and working for companies. I know it's not very common for UMass students to head out here after college or for internships, but if there is anyone looking into it this year feel free to put them in touch with me and I would be happy to connect with them. Since my UMass e-mail will expire in the few months, this is the best e-mail address to reach me at: 

From Kaitlyn Bigica:
Kaitlyn showed up at my office one day several years ago looking for advice. She wanted to get into marketing. In New York City. Good luck with that, I said. Since the competition was so stiff, we figured it might help to have an edge with technology and a little computer science. She completed the  Information Technology minor (which was not easy), and several pretty intensive internships, including one with Garvey Communications in Springfield, during which she helped manage the social media for the local appearance of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. With each job, she got glowing reviews and built her network. She also integrated what she was learning on the job into her own "brand," in her resume, LinkedIn profile, and even her business card.

Still, truth be told, I thought she was being a little fussy in her job search, by not taking the first thing that came along. But she really, really, really wanted to be in New York. And now she is. Love it when I'm proven wrong. Here's her advice.

I was getting zero responses from responding to job posts- NYC job market is tough! Well, I guess everywhere is...
I got this interview from someone I babysat for so tell students not to look anyone over as a possible reference! 
 And I'm glad I said no to CNBC because that's definitely not what I wanted to do!
Also, tell students (which I know you already stress) that I was told in my interview that they stalked me on google and all social networks before my interview.  They said they were impressed by not only my respectable presence online but also the professional nature of my posts/tweets and their relevance to my desired profession.
 They also liked my creative presentations of my resume. Did I show you this?
So my advice to those upcoming Seniors is get as many connections as possible, keep in touch with all of them and get creative so they stand out! 

From Bryne Hetznecker:
Bryne was a BDIC student from Pennsylvania who took  Entrepreneurial Journalism with me and Media Management with Marc Berman. In those classes, he got an idea of how media businesses work and where he might fit. The project he developed in Entrepreneurial Journalism didn't fly, but it taught  him how to pitch himself and his ideas to companies. He also did an independent study with me, in which he researched digital startups, both successes and failures. So he used a lot of different approaches to figuring out his path. He wanted to work with a startup that was somehow involved in the music business. And now he is. Here's his note:

...It started when I took Entrepreneurial Journalism fall semester of my Junior year. In that class I created an online tech how-to/assistance site for an older audience (WrinkleFinkle). The open format class discussions helped shape my idea of a career for myself; I wanted to work for a web/tech startup. The next summer I had an internship with a music startup FanBridge, and I knew a tech startup is where I needed to be. 
I did further research on three different startups with the independent study this past fall, which eventually led me to working part time as the Community Manager of We Love Your Songs. I gained sales experience recruiting companies to advertise/sponsor WLYS competitions. The modifications you made on my resume as the Community Manager allowed me to gain a series of interviews. What Color is Your Parachute showed me how to talk money with employers and helped me tremendously in my interviews, both on the phone and in person. 
They say third times the charm, and on my third in person interview I was offered a position. I accepted a sales position and started work this week. The company is called LocalVox and is a hyperlocal online marketing startup in NYC.
I really just wanted to show you my gratitude for helping me find my path for a career which has eventually led me to a full time job with an awesome up and coming company.

The takeaways? Figure out what you want, and keep thinking about it because this will probably change.

Work hard, and keep asking people for help. They will give it to you if you ask.

Be curious about your field and research the heck out of it. Take the Journalism Launchpad class. Read this blog and come see me on Thursdays. What else can I say, but....

1 comment:

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