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Career options for current and soon-to-be-graduating journalism majors?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Sneed, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    Man, I really picked a great major, huh?

    Was going to post this as a reply to that thread, but thought it could be of use to others in situations similar to mine....

    I'm a 21-year-old senior who will graduate in May. What options are there for us who've busted our butt the past four years to get an undergrad while accruing what felt like a pretty good resume?

    I describe myself in the following not to brag or anything, but simply to show some qualifications to provide a guide allowing for insightful feedback from all you fine folks on this board.... 8)

    First: I absolutely love writing, always have. It's the main reason I went into journalism in the first place. Goof around some with a blog, do other random writing stuff for myself, etc.

    Next: I'll graduate with a major in mass communications (print/electronic journalism concentration) and minor in writing. I've interned with a sports recruiting website, been sports editor for a yearbook, been sports editor for a college newspaper for which I was also managing editor and am now editor-in-chief. I've worked as sports editor for a weekly for a year, where I also worked as a full-time staff reporter for four months.

    I'm planning to apply to newspapers and magazines everywhere in the next few months, but am also considering teaching at the high school level via lateral entry while getting the classes I need to earn my certification ... or something like that, not sure exactly how the career counselor worded it but yeah, that's an option. Would likely return to school so I could also eventually teach at the college level. My ideal situation would be writing for a magazine in a relatively large city that allows for a variety of freelance options. Oh yeah, and write a best-selling novel ;). (Anyone know any good agents?)

    I feel like I'm a good writer while also realizing I've got loads of learning and improving to do....yet I believe I can improve to the caliber of Sports Illustrated/ESPN-level publications over the years. Should I go after that dream, or get realistic and consider other options? If the latter, what are some of the best options out there right now?
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    How about fall guy for soon-to-be-fired NFL coaches?
  3. Diabeetus

    Diabeetus Active Member

    Crappy numbers, but there'll always be some medium for good writing. Check through some of the questions and answers on this thread:

  4. pallister

    pallister Guest

    You should have to reach a certain number of posts before indiscriminately using emoticons.

    Seriously, kid, if you know what you want to do, that's more than half the battle. Pursue it. You may succeed, you may not. But at least you won't regret not having tried.
  5. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Bingo. You're going to get at least six people respond with "Get out now!" That may be the smart advice, but here's the better advice: Do what you love, and if you're willing to accept that busting your ass every day may not save, or even get you, a job, then you'll be far ahead of where others are.
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I'd say do what you love, but also understand there will come a time, after you're married, wanting to buy a house and wanting to have kids, that having a respectable paycheck and some sort of normal hours will probably be more important than turning a phrase. I was in the same boat as you at 21. By the time I was 27, I wanted to make sure my kids had everything they needed and had a dad around during all their big events.

    Sportswriting and family doesn't mesh too well. Throw in the lack of money and lack of jobs, and there's a reason a lot of people are running like hell and regretting ever getting in this business.

    That said, there are others who are very successful and have job security. So do what your heart says, but don't completely ignore your head, either.
  7. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    One of the things I've noticed over the years is that good quality writing isn't valued so much anymore. At least not in newspapers. So it might be naive to expect to make coin simply because one can write well.

    Understand, too, the difference between a reporter and a writer. The reporter spends 80 percent or more of his/her time gathering information and maybe 20 percent dissiminating it. The writer, by contrast, isn't as concerned with minute details, but spends the bulk of his/her time sizing up the larger picture and analyzing. This is largely the domain of columnists and opinion page writers today.

    The mantra today seems to be get the facts, keep it short, get the paper out on time. If we make a mistake, we'll run a correction tomorrow. Over the years, I took FAR more heat for missing deadline than I ever did for a misspelled word or incorrect fact. The reality is that good writing and hurried writing are rarely one and the same.

    If you're a person who is in love with the poetry of the written word, perhaps magazines or other long-form platforms are your best bet. More and more often, newspapers are too obsessed with "jamming everything in" to make room for the poetic 45-inch feature.

    Ditto for the internet, which seems far more the platform of breaking news than even newspapers.

    I have always encouraged people to follow their hearts, do what they love to do. But, at the same time, be aware of the larger picture and where your assets and talents can best be used.
  8. Reacher

    Reacher Member

    My advice: follow the college professor path and write as a side pursuit/hobby. If you go after full-time professional sports writer there's a very good chance you are going to regret it in 5 or 10 or 15 years, when it is close to too late. Almost all of the writers/editors I know are screwed now or are going to be screwed within a year. Hard work and talent do not make you immune. In some ways, they just make it worse on your psyche in the end.

    The other option to consider is to write, but marry someone with a high-paying job or at least a stable career with good benefits. I have seen many writer/editors make that one work out just fine.
  9. Reacher

    Reacher Member

    One great option for recent grads is health care.

    Physician assistant is 30 months to a great job and $70,000+ a year with more very possible. RN isn't bad, either, and opens up a future nurse practitioner path. Believe it or not dental hygienist could be the next hot career. Right now it's two years at community college tuition and the average salary is $60,000+.

    And you can write about health care, and do sports writing on the side.

    Don't get me wrong. Journalism is extremely satisfying. But it also means poor wages, bad benefits, no security, a small apartment, no luxuries and, for a lot of people I know, a part-time job in retail on the side.

    It's not a difficult choice at all if you look at it rationally.
  10. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    This is the best advice anybody could give. There is no way anybody should encourage a college grad to go into this business now. There should be plenty of part time writing work available in the future. Not many jobs with benefits as newspapers purge their staffs to nothing when we go all Internet, no print edition.

    I also don't trust that survey.
  11. Jim Rockford

    Jim Rockford Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  12. accguy

    accguy Member

    The easy thing is to say that you should go to law school or go and get a mba.

    You could also simply try to make a run at the journalism thing and see what happens. I would say try that, but be realistic about where you are. If you don't have a good gig by 25 or 26, be willing to punt.

    Shooting for the stars is great, but the longer you wait if you want to make a change, the harder it gets to do it.
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