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Breaking In?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Mayfly, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    I am a recent college graduate and am really curious about how to break into the field. I majored in English with a concentration in journalism. I have sent out resumes and have not had many responses. Are there any tips or helpful insights you all could share with me? Thanks.
  2. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    If you don't have them, you need clips. I would suggest contacting some nearby papers, probably smaller ones, offering to string some stories. You can maybe build up some contacts that way, too.

    You probably need to start small.
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    For those of you in Mayfly's situation, the correct answer is:

    You should have broken in before graduation.

    I suspect a lot of us on the board were working for somebody while still in school. That kind of experience, when feasible, gives you a huge advantage over the field, which waits for graduation to think about jobs. Everybody, just about, can find a place for an eager college kid.

    A recent college graduate ought to have spent the last 18 months of college networking the hell out of every contact. Who do you know? Who do they know? Rinse, repeat.

    A couple of newspaper editors who were friendly with my department chairman were gracious enough to conduct "practice interviews" with me in the fall of my senior year. That helped me sharpen my message and get my clips, etc., in order.

    A simple high school stringer job got my name inside the heads of people I would be working for a couple of years down the line. That put me on a road that led to USA Today. You never know which path will work, so try them all.

    What doesn't work? Sending out resumes. It's just more junk mail, generally, unless it happens to arrive at the moment when somebody has a need. The odds of that aren't in your favor.

    What does work is a familiar formula: Find the kind of place you want to work in the area you want to work and try to plot the lines between those two points. Sometimes, it's not a straight line.

    A story I have told here before: My wife re-entered the job market after 15 years of marriage and child-rearing. Her first move was to schedule an "informational interview" with the publisher of the local daily. The idea was to seek the publisher's advice about the market, not to beg for a job. But she left the apppointment with an offer to be a advertorial writer. That led to a clerk's job and that, in turn, led to a feature writing/columnist gig.

    She's been in that job for almost 10 years. All put into motion from one one-hour face-to-face conversation with a complete stranger.

    Now, I think you find a small job to keep the wheels turning ("Would you like fries with that?") and dedicate the rest of your waking hours to selling yourself. You're young, you don't need sleep anyway.

    If by "recent" you mean you graduated in December, then you still have a small window of opportunity before the May graduates face the same situation you're in.

    As the Beasties say: "Now, get busy."
  4. 1- Network, network, network then network a bit more.

    2- Have you ever considered relocating to Upper Armpit, Alabama to work for the 3X weekly Upper Armpit Times-Review? Start to.

    3- Work realllly hard. Like 18-hour days hard. If you want to go the freelance route, pitch at least five stories a day. It will probably take you a month (or more) before someone bites. After you write that story, immediately pitch them another.

    4- Look for post-grad internship opportunities

    5- Did I mention networking?
  5. Big Buckin' agate_monkey

    Big Buckin' agate_monkey Active Member

    Thanks for spending all that time drinking in college ... one less person I had to worry about.
  6. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    I have been networking very hard from the moment I was in college to the moment I graduated. My clip file is extensive with the writing that I did for four years with my award winning school newspaper. I don't mind relocating, it is first finding that job with to do it. I put more work than many people on my staff in college.
  7. All college newspaper's are "award winning." Nobody really gives a shit, unless you write for the Orange.

    Did you intern anywhere? Have you freelanced? I would start small, looking at weeklies and really small dailies....
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm puzzled by that.

    It's a little hard to reconcile the situation you lay out in your first question (out of school, no job) with your followup response (I've been networking and working hard for four years). There's a missing piece we're not getting here. Not sure what that might be.
  9. Clever username

    Clever username Active Member

    Lack of talent?
  10. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    And here I was thinking that since "You're hired!" and a photo of a bunch of dogs hadn't been posted, people were being nice.


    Kid, if you seek quality advice, you came to the right place. If you seek a group that will not sugar-coat it for you, you also came to the right place.

    If you networked, first order of business is to get in touch with people you networked with. Also, if you had buddies from college who went into the business, they should be able to help with advice, contacts, etc.

    Good luck.
  11. Did you do an internship with a newspaper?

    Minor threadjack: Not to pick on Mayfly because I see it all the time in journalismjobs.com want ads, but are there any papers that aren't award-winning? Are there any papers that come back from the state press association contest and say, damn we didn't win a single award this year? Is that the implication if I don't say my newspaper is award-winning?
  12. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    YOU'RE HIRED!!!!

    BYH hits the homer right after Piotr lets a belt-high BP fastball go for a called strike three. :D

    To follow up on Ronaldo's advice: Your collegiate newspaper work is irrelevant the moment it appears in print. Sorry. We should have told you that four years ago. (Wish someone told me that 15 years ago)
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