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A couple career questions

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by GGBonkers, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. GGBonkers

    GGBonkers New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I graduate May 2020. Around Thanksgiving break I began looking at job openings pretty seriously. Now I have a big excel spreadsheet that lists the different industries and job positions that I plan to apply to. I’m trying to be organized and not miss any opportunities that could fall my way.

    Would love to break into sports journalism, but I’m aware there are many qualified candidates out there who want the same jobs. It also doesn’t have to be solely sports...I’m willing to branch off from sports and cover a different beat. I have some questions for you all:

    1. So far I’ve mostly just applied to positions on TeamWork Online (not journalism, I know) and journalism internships/fellowships I can find online. That’s because I know the job duration and when I should hear back. When should I begin applying to jobs on journalism jobs.com? I’d rather not apply to jobs at small newspapers now if those places are looking for positions to be filled immediately. Should I wait until April or so? I set a personal goal to have a job in journalism by the time I graduate. Whether that is unrealistic or not is another issue...

    2. What are other industries that are similar? I have experience with some marketing. PR jobs? What are some job titles to search for on LinkedIn and other job boards (editorial? Content writers?). What are other job types could I be looking towards with transferrable skills from journalism?

    3. What are some good ways to connect with people in the industry? Any practices I could implement starting tomorrow? If you could do everything over what would you do? Obviously I have tried to keep in contact with past colleagues and keep good relationships. How would one create a connection with someone they don’t already know? Are there functions I could attend?

    4. What can I do to improve my skills tomorrow? I’m taking the free Google Analytics courses right now. I’ve also taken a couple adobe LinkedIn courses. Is there a certification for Final Cut Pro? What are other skills/programs should I try to become proficient in (outside of Office)?

    I really appreciate all the help. I know I just typed a question avalanche. As you can tell, my thoughts are all over the place. Feel free to point me in the direction of other threads. New to the forum and haven’t exhausted the search function yet
  2. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome, GG.

    Start applying everywhere now. Even if the listing says they're looking to fill immediately, it's good to get your name out there. And jobs freeze all the time, so when they un-freeze you'll want your name to be in the pile.

    But at the same time -- screw the pile. It's infinitely harder to get hired that way, there aren't enough gigs and if hiring managers are going outside their walls it's 98 percent of the time to hire someone they know. So if there are some places you want to work, from entry level to your pie-in-the-sky dream gig, start emailing now just to introduce yourself. Then keep in touch regularly with updated clips.

    I work in university communications after years in daily journalism and highly recommend it to both young and not-so-young. At many schools you can pursue a grad degree for free or at a discount while working, plus the jobs generally don't have the pressure or lousy hours of daily journalism. Go to higheredjobs.com and set up alerts for your interests and geographical area.
  3. JM22720

    JM22720 New Member

    I landed first sports reporter job out of college thanks to an editor I reported to as a freelancer. It's all about who you know. Network, network, network. Also, freelance for the local paper and get some non-student-newspaper bylines if you can.
  4. exmediahack

    exmediahack Well-Known Member

    Target 10 cities that you'd like to work in. Collect your best clips/writing.

    Write a little bit more and sharpen your craft.

    THEN start applying and making contacts.

    You'll want to be at your absolute "best" for making first impressions.

    Welcome to our world.
  5. ADanielPandR

    ADanielPandR Member

    If you haven't done this already, you should also consider building multiple online portfolios. One place to do that is Muck Rack, but you should also take advantage of WordPress or an equivalent platform's low- or no-cost options to customize and categorize your own site where prospective employers can browse your best work. Once you have created that, link to it in a pinned tweet and (privately) ask your friends and existing network connections to retweet it.
    GGBonkers and maumann like this.
  6. Just speaking from experience, literally every job I've had, both inside the industry and out, came with some kind of referral. With the market the way it is currently, probably the only way you are going to get a sports journalism job is if you really impress with the opportunities you have received.

    If you haven't interned yet, you are light years behind the up-and-comers who will be hired immediately by the metros. Go look up the resume of, say, Emily Giambalvo at The Washington Post, and that gives you an idea of the bar that is set.

    I'd much rather be in PR than journalism right now. So if there is a particular topic that interests you -- education, politics, etc. -- start making connections in the industry. When college students reach out to me, I always make time to answer their questions. I remember what it was like.

    Good luck. Jobs in the communications industry are very competitive, but the fact that you came here asking questions is a really positive sign.
    Liut and GGBonkers like this.
  7. Sports Barf

    Sports Barf Active Member

    If you tweet like a deranged lunatic enough The Athletic will hire you to cover an NHL team. You’ll probably be out of a job when the company craters in 3 years but hey YOLO right?
    JM22720 likes this.
  8. Regan MacNeil

    Regan MacNeil Well-Known Member

    Alma and HanSenSE like this.
  9. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    As others have said, it is not too early. In fact, now is the time. And don’t just apply to places advertising openings. Send stuff to places in your area and in other regions you would like to live, whether they’re advertising openings or not. You never know, they might have a spot. Also, I assume you’ve done some internships and part-time or freelance work in addition to writing for your school paper?
  10. GGBonkers

    GGBonkers New Member

    Thanks for all the help so far, guys.

    I didn't realize I wanted to do something along the lines of sports journalism until my junior year of college. I did an internship the previous summer that showed me my original career path wasn't what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

    Unfortunately, that is one reason I don't have the very impressive resume of someone like Emily Giambalvo who has the advantage of 4 years portfolio experience compared to my 2 years. Still, I'm relatively happy with the experience I've accumulated in that 2-year time period so far (staff writer -> editor for a campus newspaper, volunteer writer for soccer website, freelance sports contributor for local newspaper covering HS, editorial intern for magazine chain). Also been trying to highlight relevant skills from the non-journalism experience I have. I do utilize an online portfolio.

    Maybe a stupid question, but does anyone have suggestions on how to introduce myself to strangers when I network via email/LinkedIn? I always feel as if I'm bothering them, or that they "see through" my message and know I ultimately want a job. What kind of message would come across well, and who should I be sending messages to (reporters, talent acquisition reps, etc)?

    Will keep in mind the PR and higher ed replies as well. Have thought about sports information too, just don't think I would enjoy that role necessarily.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
  11. tonygunk

    tonygunk New Member

    It sounds to me that your experience so far is really good. There certainly are college students a lot worse than you experience- and interest-wise.

    My advice would be to just not give up and understand that sports journalism is not fair at all. I've been out of college for three years, working at a small paper after having a pretty decent internship. I've applied to hundreds of jobs between the time after my internship and while I've been at this job. Heard back from like 20 -- not an exaggeration. And no one sends rejections; you're just left wondering what you might have done wrong.

    With the industry the way it is now, I think a lot of people are making these hiring decisions arbitrarily and without much time to really study your resume and clips. I don't blame them -- everyone is way overworked -- but that's the way it is.

    All the more reason to strongly consider getting out of the newspaper business before you even get in it. But, if the job is in a good location and it's a good place you want to be, it can still be a good thing to do in your early 20s when you have the potential to change course if it doesn't go the way it should.
    Tweener and GGBonkers like this.
  12. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I ask this in all seriousness -- were you a sports fan your whole life? Familiar with some of the history of leagues and teams, and the rules of games? It doesn't have to be as arcane as knowing every Minnesota state girls' volleyball champion since 1980, but if someone references an NFL player like Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw, would you know who they're talking about?
    Reason I ask is that a few years ago we hired a guy who apparently had decided he wanted to be a sports writer around the same time he decided he wanted to be a sports fan. Both events, near as I could tell, happened in about 2009 and it showed. He had no clue about any of the things he was writing about on a fundamental level, but had the attitude that he was the second coming of Red Smith.
    So, the lesson here, is to be well-versed in the topics you're covering whether it's high school football, the NFL, or nuclear physics. A little humility to admit what you don't know, coupled with a willingness to learn, also helps a lot.
    Liut likes this.
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