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Experience going into your first gig?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spud, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    Drank in university (and watched a lot of football).
    Had six different non-journalism jobs after graduating (was fired from two--for good reason).
    Started freelancing for start-up sports magazine in 1998. Loved it. Knew I had found my calling.
    Continued freelancing in my spare time (which wasn’t much, I was working 12-hour shifts as a jail guard for two years in there) until 2002.
    Applied for a job at a 2k weekly 5,000 miles away on a Thursday, was offered the job (over e-mail!) within 12-hours and was in a car with all of my belongings (including my cat) that Sunday.
    Worked there for a year. Enjoyed it. Learned a lot.
    Came home to help support my better half as she started her PhD. Worked at a call center selling AT&T long distance (I’m sorry. Terribly sorry) for a year while I saved enough money to go back to school.
    Returned to college in 2004 to get a two-year diploma in journalism
    That same year I started a website covering Canadian university football—it was the only one of its kind and it quickly found a following (about 10,000 readers a day—pretty good for up here).
    Did two internships in sports at dailies.
    Got a non-sports gig editing a 3k weekly in Upper Armpit, Ontario. Stayed for seven months until taking my current job—sports editor at a nationally distributed Aboriginal 10k paper.
    Accepted sports editor position at Globe and Mail

    (OK, I’m making that last one up…)

    My biggest wish was that I wasn’t such a tool during my first degree. I had a lot of fun, but….That said, once I decided this was it, I wrote, wrote and wrote some more. I wrote for anyone that would take me (in the beginning for free).

    And I’m nowhere near done writing yet.
  2. Cansportschick

    Cansportschick Active Member

    I was in university getting my second undergrad degree when I got my first gig. I am going into my fourth year working for the same place and the circulation is 10,000. It actually got me into J-school.
    I only had extensive knowledge of the local sports base here and my writing experience came from taking a first year journalism course at school as an elective while finishing my second degree (if you want to include papers and essays too...I was allowed to do sports topics and that gave me a lot of research experience).

    I had to prove to my boss that I deserved the shot and worked my ass off. That is why they also gave me an official title of Assignment Editor too. I now manage writers as well as continuing my own writing.

    At least I have first dibs of what assignments I want before giving out the rest.
  3. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    I took a sportswriting class taught by a major metro editor who, before the semester was finished, had gotten me a part-time gig at an 80,000-circulation paper, covering college and high school sports along with your odd dog show or whatever. Left to become an agate clerk at a wire service, where I also had the option to write weekend feature package stories. I wrote a feature every week and a bunch of them got huge play. I was hired by the wire service full-time.
  4. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    No experience, but I had known I wanted to be a writer since about age thirteen. Creative writing degree. Poetry. Had an idea for a story. Got a book about free lance writing. Followed the instructions. Pitched the story. Big City Magazine bought it, asked what I wanted to do next. Thought of something else. Quit day job seven years later. Never been on staff anywhere. Fulltime freelancer since 1993.
  5. 212areacode

    212areacode Member

    I came straight from a bar to my first job.

  6. i had been a stringer at the 5,000-circ. daily in the small town i went to college in

    being a stringer there meant covering as many college events (D3) as I could, typing up 400 - 500 words, sliding it under the door of the sports editor's office and getting i think $20 per story

    on a busy weekend, i could knock out a handful of gamers. volleyball, M& W basketball, track ... whatever ... and earn enough money to buy a case of Blatz and hit Rax for dinner
  7. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Four years at the college daily, plus three internships: one summer at a metro, a part-time/during-school gig at a 75K metro, then the summer after senior year at another metro. When I got done there, the 75K hired me.
  8. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    My high school newspaper was a quarterly (or perhaps a monthly) produced by a junior-year English class. I don't think anyone read it... aside from big nerds like me. I was not in that class. I took creative writing instead, and discovered that I'm not so good at making things up. ::)

    I was on the college newspaper staff for almost my entire four years. I spent the first couple of weeks in news with one of my closest friends (then and now) and quit because it was impossibly boring. I came back to the paper as a sportswriter because of a loudmouth on my freshman hall who liked to name-drop campus sports "celebrities" he knew. My first sports story was a feature on the women's club ice hockey team. If I didn't have to spend major $$$ on equipment, I think I would've quit journalism and played hockey instead.

    I did three summer internships at magazines, none of them sports-related. My parents declared that they wouldn't pay for me to live elsewhere, so I didn't have much of a selection.

    I got my first job because of a year-old resume I'd sent trying to get an internship at a quasi-hometown paper, about 150,000-circ. The editor was cleaning off his desk, found it, and called. I had a part-time gig within weeks of graduation.

    I was damn lucky. Though I s'pose with the current job market, maybe I should've gone to social work school after all. :-\
  9. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    "Worked" for one year on the high school newspaper, writing slightly subversive topics and basically getting in trouble (I was called to the office once for a story on censorship)
    Didn't get back into the act until my final year of college (year 5) and spent a semester doing A&E stuff, then fell into the SE job at the beginning of the next semester. Learned a lot then, was a one-man crew on a weekly at the college paper, which was nice, considering.
    Spent a month out of school sending resumes, was offered a job in Kansas, but when I got there, I turned the job down and headed home. On the way back I got another offer and got that job. Much smaller town, but it was within driving distance of other things. Spent almost a year there before jumping ship.
    Made the move to N.C. to a sub 20K paper and learned a helluva lot from the SE there, he was amazing. Spent a little over two great years there.
    Moved back to my hometown to work at the 20K paper while the wife heads to college to get her RN (WOO-HOO, I'm a kept man). Like it here, and will be happy here for the foreseeable future.
    I'm a lucky man.
  10. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Wrote four articles for my college newspaper -- four band profiles, so I could get free concert tickets -- while finishing my grad. degree in urban planning.

    Close to spring convocation, I applied for an internship at Canada's national newspaper and didn't get an interview.

    A few days later, I applied for a real job at what would become (that fall) Canada's second national newspaper and got it.

    I actually submitted my thesis as a writing sample, because they wanted five pieces and I had only the four.

    Fuck, man, it's all one big stupid crapshoot.
  11. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    Before my first sportswriting gig ...

    3 years of experience covering several sports beats at the college daily.
    4 years of experience working at the college radio station (covering broadcast sports) + 1 year doing TV games.
    1 year of experience writing women's college basketball notebooks for a major metro's website (back when the de rigeur web browser was NCSA Mosaic, unless you had dial-up and used Lynx).
    A journalism degree.

    I stuck in print for 9 years, hacking at a couple of small newspapers. Now, freelance broadcasting lures me in my spare time from my day job.
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