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Needing Advice: First Job

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by c.smith, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. c.smith

    c.smith New Member

    I just finished my last exam and I haven't found a job yet. I feel a little lost -- if you have an opinion on what I'm doing wrong/right, or what you would do in my position, please let me know.

    A little background on my experience:

    Summer internship at the Washington Post
    Full season as a writer/multimedia producer for DenverBroncos.com (2007 NFL season)
    Summer internship with the Tennessee Titans, cover every home game (2008 NFL season)
    Two seasons covering high school football for local papers (one weekly, one on deadline)
    Four years writing for my university paper (weekly), one as sports editor

    I can shoot/edit video and photos, I have blogging experience and a little design experience. I don't have much experience with daily newspapers.

    I'm looking for a job with a solid smaller daily newspaper as a sports reporter. I've searched hard and I can't find many job openings other than the ones listed on JournalismJobs.com. I've started looking up daily newspapers on every state's press association Web site, e-mailing them my resume and asking if they have any openings.

    Location is not an issue. I would like to make 25K with student loan payments starting up, but I'll make it with less if I need to.

    I've applied to 10-15 places with actual job openings and sent out 40 other resumes. I don't have a perfect sense of how difficult it is to get a job other than what I read in all the articles, but I know newspapers are evolving and shedding positions. Am I looking for the wrong position (fairly small to medium daily) with my experience? I have high aspirations for my career. I have no problem gritting through a first job and don't have any big sense of entitlement, but I want to work somewhere that will give me an opportunity to move up and I fear getting "trapped" somewhere.

    I haven't gotten any responses to my applications. The few e-mails I've received have been apologetic in tone, some saying they liked my credentials but they aren't good enough with the current market. I figure I'm a pretty stubborn guy, and I won't give up, but I wonder if there's anything I could do differently, or is patience the best option?

    Sorry to burden the board with a personal question, but I figure there are other young journalists here with the same issues.
  2. If you really want to give this a shot, go string or work part-time at a major metro somewhere. Your Washington Post internship will open that door.

    Give it five years.

    If you aren't full-time yet or don't feel like it's going anywhere, go to law or business school.
  3. DCguy

    DCguy Member

    Why don't you call/e-mail the WaPo (or any of the other places you've worked) and ask your closest editor for help? It's not like they've forgotten you. Nobody works harder helping you find a job than an old editor who likes you.
  4. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Pump up that you can do audio/video. It is important.
  5. JJHHI

    JJHHI Member

    I know you don't want to hear this, but the job market really is brutal right now. We have an opening for a sports reporter, which I'm sure you've noticed during your constant scanning of the jobs board (been there, done that, so I understand).

    I haven't delved too deeply into the applications piling up on our SE's desk and in his inbox, but I can tell you off the top of my head we're going to turn away at least 8-10 people with significant experience and plenty more who might lack the experience but certainly have the talent to do the job exceptionally well. We can only hire one, you know.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is you shouldn't get discouraged. The fact you haven't landed a job doesn't reflect badly on your ability, necessarily. It's just a really tough time in our business and there are far more job-seekers than jobs. I suggest you heed the advice on this thread and take every opportunity you can to write and make contacts in this business and stick with it as long as it's feasible to do so.

    Then go to law school. (Just kidding about that last part ... sort of.)

    Best of luck.
  6. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Don't give up your dream until YOU decide you've had enough of chasing it or living it. It's extremely tough out here but if you are that adamant about finding something, it can be done. Just be prepared to travel and live in a place that in many instances time forgot.
    Pray and work hard. That's the best advice I can give you. Good luck.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Like Roswell.

    In all seriousness, it seems like you have the right attitude (i.e., that you're not going to start out at as a columnist at the New York Times). Best advice I can give is what others have already said -- string whenever you can to keep your skills sharp and get some current clips, pump up your web skills, and keep plugging.
    And, for the love of god, stay the hell out of Roswell.
  8. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    As a relatively recent graduate, Spring '07, here's my advice. Find where you want to live, preferably around friends and family, go to the major metro or email the sports editor, and start freelancing. I was hired for my first job in April of my senior year of college, moved to basically the middle of nowhere for a 35K daily and while the staff was young and energetic, I missed my friends and family terribly. Three months later, in August, I was hired at a major metro much closer to home, and while the job entailed much less writing, I still got my fair share. After 11 months at said paper, I grew to hate the city, didn't get along with much of the staff and generally was unhappy.

    In August of this year, I moved back home, started freelancing for one of the majors, and now things are going incredibly well. I love my editors, I get to write long features pretty much whenever I have an idea for one - they ran a 100-INCH story a month back, full - and I'm with my best friends in the world.

    Would I have gotten to this point without the first two stops, and a few awards, and a lot of luck? Probably not. Would I take the year of my life spent away from everyone I care about and miserable? Absolutely.
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Look at news openings.
  10. RTJ

    RTJ Member

    Contact everyone you've worked for and see if they know somebody who knows somebody that's hiring. You must have the ability to write, but references are the key. There are so many talented writers available nowadays, you need that edge. In the meantime, freelance for a metro daily and don't get discouraged.
  11. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    Go get an MBA.
  12. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Yes, MBA or law school are always great advice even if it's the last possible thing he wants to do with his life...go deeper into debt, spend more time getting another degree you don't need and still not be able to find a suitable job.
    Great freaking advice.
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