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Breaking in part time

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Sunshine Scooter, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. Couldn't find a thread on this, so I wanted to see if anyone thinks it's a good idea to break in with a larger paper part time.

    It seems in today's market, most bigger papers (100,000 circ. plus) rarely hire outside people unless it's for a major beat and that person is an effin' stud.

    So is it worth it to take a part time position with a big paper, if said paper is hiring one, just to get in the door and work your way to something fulltime eventually? Is it worth the obvious less money and no benefits to do so?
  2. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    I think it depends on your career goals. If your priority is to work at a larger paper, then trying to get a foot in the door with a part-time job might be the best route. It wouldn't be my chosen route. I would rather cut my teeth in a full-time job at a smaller paper where I have a bit more stability, and if the big-time job comes along, then so be it.

    I've also had a couple friends get burned by taking part-time work at big papers, busting ass trying to get on full-time but basically being strung along. They were miserable. One guy worked part-time for a major metro for a couple of years only to be passed over for a job he was perfectly qualified for when the paper made an outside hire (imagine that). So take that for what it's worth.
  3. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    Please reread the bold part carefully. I had a friend who took a part-time job with a 60+K daily in hopes of getting on full-time. He was there more than four years before he realized it would never happen. He was eager, busting his ass and putting out as much copy as a full-timer in only 28 to 30 hours a week. They were getting full-time work out of him for part-time pay, so they had no incentive to hire him full-time. Some papers have permenant part-time positions, so you need to ask if this is the case before you take a job.
  4. Norman Stansfield

    Norman Stansfield Active Member

    I am one of those who followed the part-timer to full-timer route, but that was years ago, when the business was a little different.

    Things have changed since then. I'd say the best bet is to get full-time work somewhere first, and then look to move on.
  5. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I'm in the same boat, in a way. I broke into the business as a part-time sports clerk, but grabbed a full-time writing spot at a smaller paper after that -- then worked my way up to the metro. If you're living at home, taking the part-time job is a no-brainer. But I'd never stop looking for the full-time gig. If you're on your own, you better have at least another decent-paying part-time job to tide you over. But you've got to have patience if your plans involve staying at that paper because becoming a full-time writer there might take a long while -- if it happens.

    Plus, I don't know about everyone else, but we give our part-time worker -- we used to have two ... those were the days -- the ass end of everything. He's in charge of putting the schedules into the system, updating the contact list, takes calls almost every night he's working, and if he's lucky, he'll get the swimming or track feature.

    If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't change my path. But not everyone gets out of their part-time job after six weeks. I don't know if I'd have the patience to be a sports clerk much longer than that. Not at 22, at least.
  6. Appgrad05

    Appgrad05 Active Member

    The complaint you most often hear when part-time guys get passed over is "Well, he was qualified." What does that mean? Did he have the clips? Or is it just that he showed up everyday and dutifully took calls and wrote 8" girls' soccer gamers? The latter is all well and good, but it doesn't necessarily mean he's capable of that full-time position.
    Before you take a part-time gig, you need to seriously ask yourself if you are capable of taking that full-time position, at that paper, soon. If not, you need to go to a 10K and work to get better.
  7. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    I get what you're saying, appy, and you're right. In the case I mentioned, the guy truly was "qualified." Sometimes the part-timer isn't. And sometimes (often?) the SE doesn't want to hire his part-time guy for the full-time position, because he knows he'll have a harder time finding another solid part-timer than filling the full-time job with one of the young, effin' studs from the stack of 400 applicants. I just wanted to warn Scooter of the potential for that scenario.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I'd rather get on at a bigger paper as a full-time clerk as opposed to a part-time whatever.

    You do tend to get pigeonholed, but I have know lots of clerks who have gone on to bigger and better things.

    Part-timers, not as much.
  9. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    I've done the part-time at a major metro thing for a couple of years now. I'd say all the advice here sounds pretty solid.

    I've been able to make it work thus far by living with a bunch of friends in a big house to keep my rent low. That has allowed me to get by on just the part-time salary for more than 2 years.

    I would love to get on full-time because I think I could stay here for a long time if I could. But I think it's unlikely and have been told as much by my editor since the day he hired me. I actually appreciate that honesty a lot. I definitely don't feel like they've strung me along.

    But there is something to what was said earlier, that as long as they're getting full-time type work out of you as a part-timer, what incentive do they have to hire you full-time? It's a bit of a Catch-22. You want to bust your ass to impress them so they'll make you full time. But if you do that, they have little incentive to bump you up. And if you don't bust your ass to try and give them reason to think they can get more out of you as a full-timer, then they either don't think you work hard enough to promote you or just let go of you outright. Then there's the question of where you draw the line as a part-timer so you don't feel like you're being taken advantage of. It's a tough tightrope to walk.

    I like the advice to take the PT job if you can pull it off but keep an eye out for good full-time gigs. That's basically what I've done, and having the PT job has helped me to not take the first job that comes down the pike. It has allowed me a bit of freedom to pick and choose so that I don't end up at a really shitty paper, as I did early in my career.

    But definitely don't go in expecting to be hired full-time, no matter what they tell you. Look at it as a temporary stop where you can gain experience, clips and make some good contacts before you move on. It's also a good way to make your mark on the paper. I know the big paper I'm working for regularly hires people who used to be their interns or part-timers after they leave and build up several years of experience. Yours is probably the same way.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Shifty squid sounds like he's on the mark.
  11. Norman Stansfield

    Norman Stansfield Active Member

    The pay factor is an interesting one.

    At least at major metros, usually the part-timer rate is still good enough where you don't have to work another job, or at the very least are semi-comfortable. Throw in a freelance gig or two here and there, and you're doing OK. You just don't have benefits.

    That tends to keep many part-timers around for years. I know it did me.
  12. TheMethod

    TheMethod Member

    At a 50,000-plus circ. paper, I made $18,000 as a part-timer one year. If you live in the midwest, you can survive that way.
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