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Job advice for a May 2013 grad

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by boxingnut4324, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. boxingnut4324

    boxingnut4324 Member

    Figured I'd ask the forum what I should do in terms of getting a job in the business. I'm graduating from the University of Rhode Island in May and am trying to gauge the market. I started in 2007 at a daily near home (Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) when I was a junior in high school and have freelanced for a whole handful of places throughout New England since (MA, NH, RI). I can write, shoot and edit video with MovieMaker, and I'm planning on learning the Quark program to layout my school paper this semester. I have a lot of solid freelance connections in the area, but I would feel a lot more confident with a staff job. What should I do as I start the job hunt?

    P.S. I will not accept "Get out of this business as soon as you can" from the wise, veteran writers here. I'm still too young and idealistic to buy that...yet.
  2. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty New Member

    take a class in ID.
  3. GidalKaiser

    GidalKaiser Member

    Network as much as possible and hunt for internships/jobs wherever they pop up. Learning InDesign, like TP suggested, is not at all a bad idea. Learn how to sell yourself and your work (this does not get taught/told often enough, in my opinion).
  4. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    This is going to sound snarky, but it's not meant to. You started this thread on the Jobs board. I assume you didn't read the rules, which state that the Jobs board is only for job postings, and that questions like this are meant to be on the Journalism Topics board. But even failing that, did you notice that all the posts on that board were job postings?

    If you want to be a successful journalist, you have to notice details. If you want to get hired, you have to follow instructions in job ads. (If it says no clips, don't send clips. If if says no calls, don't call. And no, not even just once, just to check.)

    The sooner you learn how to do that stuff, the better.
  5. Noticed a couple of threads on the Jobs board ths past week where OPs haven't bothered to read the rules or even do a search or two that would answer some questions.
  6. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Hell, there are three threads on the front page right now that are asking for advice. I realize everyone's situation is unique, but still.
  7. JRoyal

    JRoyal Well-Known Member

    I'll echo the advise to learn InDesign instead of Quark. If your school paper uses Quark, try to find a way to get some familiarity with ID. It will give you some more flexibility when you're hunting for jobs. It's easy to pick up one if you know the other, but InDesign is by far the better product.

    Also, learn HTML, and if you're school offers one and you haven't taken it or if you can find one online, take a course in computer-assisted reporting. If you can crunch numbers on a spreadsheet and come up with thoughtful analysis, it adds some depth to you that can help you find interesting angles to explore instead of rehashing the same old features.

    Put together a website with examples of your work, and include everything. Make this thing impressive, the kind of site that when an editor goes to it, he wants to at least bring you in for an interview. If you don't look at it and think it's awesome, an editor won't either. Even if you don't know HTML or only know limited HTML, there are tools out there that can help you put one together pretty easy. Use Google and find them. Include story samples (either post the stories or links, or put up PDFs of clips), and if you have it post some videos and page designs. Maybe include a blog as part of it just to show what you can bring in that realm.

    And have someone brutal read your clips before you send them out. You want someone who will look at them like an editor will. You might think a story is amazing, but if it doesn't grab a hiring editor quickly, they won't read past a few paragraphs.

    And, also like others said, network like crazy.
  8. Chris17

    Chris17 Member

    If your school paper uses Quark, try to find a way to get some familiarity with ID, and try to get your student newspaper to stop using Quark! InDesign is the way to go, and it will serve you and the rest of the folks at The Cigar much better down the road. But yes, learn ID.

    I like this idea, only if it's stellar. If you can put together a site that, as JRoyal said, it's freaking awesome... do it. It will put you a cut above the rest. But I've always thought that one of the worst things you could do is to put together a shitty-looking website. Few things kill a job application faster than going to www.applicantsname.com and it absolutely blows. Make sure you can put together a solid product before you let a site like this go live.
  9. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    All good advice. Sounds like you have a decent background.

    Be prepared to start small, not consider any job or assignment beneath you and also be prepared to move if you find something in another city/state that interests you. Be prepared to move around. Most entry-level jobs are just that. It's rare anymore that someone stays in one place for their entire career, or even for many years.

    It's something of a crap shoot, even for veteran guys (and gals) with years of experience. Don't get discouraged if you get a few rejections (we all do). As they say in the sales business, "every NO brings you one step closer to a YES".

    Also, decide what part of the business you like the best and are good at. It's good to be versatile, but there are so many different ways one can go that it also helps to know what route you'd most like to go: small-town newspaper, team or college PR gig, broadcast production, websites, etc.
  10. boxingnut4324

    boxingnut4324 Member

    Long-term I would love to do long-form writing a la Wright Thompson, but I know positions like that are earned over time. I'm starting to send out applications now to a bunch of small weekly/bi-weeklies in the area as well as a few small dailies. I know I'll most likely have to move but I'm concentrating my hunt to New England, the Mid-Atlantic, Chicago & Miami (I have family there).
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Sounds like a good strategy. The job ladder for newspapers is sort of pyramid-shaped, meaning the higher you go, the fewer spots there are. So if you're looking at small dailies to start, you have plenty of places to pick from. Good luck.
  12. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    If you want to get my real advice for moving up the ladder, listen but this is going to make a lot of posters on this site mad as hell. And it should. However, it is the best way to get yourself out there.
    When you get a job at a small daily if there is a college or pro team you want to cover out there but they won't pay you to cover it, be willing to cover it in your free time and on your own dime. A lot of people think it's crazy but I consider the payment to be the clips of covering a national story and also the networking chances you will get in that pressbox.
    When you get in that box, don't be annoying trying to meet everyone and rub up against everyone, but don't be an ass and not schmooze at all either. I have seen plenty of people who have moved up by glad-handing the right person in a pressbox and getting their name out there.
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