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Post-Graduation Lull

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Kritter47, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. Kritter47

    Kritter47 Member

    I'd like to think I'm a good candidate for an entry-level position.

    I graduated May 20 with a degree in journalism, wrote sports four years for my school paper, had a two-year internship with a major pro team's website, strung high school stories for local papers and have a good resume and nice clips. But, like a lot of recent grads around here, I seem to have missed the boat as far as a full-time job right out of school.

    I've had a few places call me and express interest in setting up an interview, but nothing has come through at the final intervel level except a part-time agate position I didn't get. I'm attempting to apply for most entry-level positions to get my foot in the door at a moderate sized paper. Am I overshooting here? Should I be looking at even smaller papers (circulation 10,000 or less) or is my current range (circulation 15,000-30,000) a good starting point? And is my lack of a newspaper internship really hurting me in the eyes of hiring editors?

    For reference - the websites I wrote for were DallasCowboys.com and DallasDesperados.com, which give readers newspaper-style content. There's so much coverage down here of the Cowboys if we just put out PR releases, we'd get no readers.

    Finally, I'd love any tips you all have on how a 22-year-old southern girl can work towards getting an NHL, major junior, D-1 college or AHL hockey beat at sometime in her career.
  2. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    just because you start at a smaller paper doesn't mean you'll be there forever if you don't want to be there. too may people here rip smaller papers as starting points but there are just so many bigger papers and so many jobs at those places. there are too many people who i respect at larger papers who have basically told me the same thing: by working at a good smaller paper, you'll only get better because of the opportunity to write and write and write. and if you have talent that shows up in your clips, they don't care where those clips were published. heck, i was making about 32k a year at my 6k-circulation paper in north texas as the sports editor before jumping into the 40s as managing editor. i'm betting the pay i was making at one of those dreaded small papers was better than what more than a few of the people bashing small papers were making. maybe, just maybe, the people who want to move up to larger papers simply don't have the talent to move up and instead of taking a hard look at themselves, want to blame it on the size of the paper where they're working. i had offers at larger papers but in the end decided to stay small because it was a better path to management at a larger paper.
  3. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    I second what tex said about small papers, and I'll add a few things.

    • You haven't even been out of school a month. The boat hasn't sailed yet.
    • It sounds like you have some good experience, but I don't know if you realize how pathetic the supply-and-demand curve is for writing jobs. Don't get frustrated. Just know there are a lot of good writers out there competing with you for jobs.
    • Your target of 15-30K circulation seems reasonable. You'll know it if and when it's time to lower your aim, which might or might not be now.
    • Your lack of a newspaper internship probably is hurting you with some editors, and it probably isn't hurting you with others. Totally depends on the editor.
    • If you want to cover hockey, you'll almost definitely get the chance. You're 22. It's a long career.

    Good luck.
  4. sportsed

    sportsed Guest

    "Finally, I'd love any tips you all have on how a 22-year-old southern girl can work towards getting an NHL..."

    Cowgirl, is that you?

    I can't believe that writing for cowboys and desperados.com is going to hurt you. That's good for you. I didn't get my first job in the biz till the January following graduation and look where I am now ... posting here all damn day.
  5. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    I didn't get my first job until August following graduation. Did that for 6 months, then quit to take an unpaid internship while working telemarketing on the side. Fortunately, the internship lead to a fulltime job. (I'm in TV, though, internships work a little differently.)

    My point is, hang in there. The first year after graduation is tough. It seemed like all my friends had high-paying jobs lined up on Wall Street before they even graduated. My mom's friends were tellling me to go into real estate, etc.

    Reading your post, I have a gut feeling you'll make it.

    A fellow Southern girl
  6. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    Don't worry about it yet, but at the same time, don't eliminate anything.

    I worked for the school paper then was the stringer at my school for a pretty big paper down the road for two years. After I got out, I got a design internship at that paper for the summer, then started interviewing. I got a number of offers from small 6-days a week and a couple once-a-week papers. I picked a weekly, not because it was exactly the best job, but because of location and girlfriend and crap like that.

    Anyway, what I've learned in the last year is there's a hell of a lot I had left to learn. I had a lot of experience, but I'm really glad I did it all the way I did because I've picked up a ton in the last year even from a very small paper. Maybe your stories won't get picked up by the AP and maybe milions won't read them, but they still mean something to someone and there's a hell of a lot of good stories there. Plus, when I sit down with the SE at a larger daily around here in a year or so, I'll be proud when I say "look what I did with what I had."

    So, my advice is take what you can get as long as it's full time. Keep up your connections no matter where you go and just do the best job you can. And don't worry. A lot of people are worse off. Every time I start to think "damn, what the hell am I doing wasting my time here?", I talk to someone in the biz who is making about half as much as I am (I get about 24k) or who got so fed up with their inability to find anything even as good as I have and quit to do something else. It makes me glad I have what I have, even if most of the people on this board would act like it's crap and dismiss it. Like someone else said, you're 22. You'll be writing for at least 43 more years. Shit, even if you spend 2 years at a crap job, 5 years at a mid-level job and another 5 at a upper-mid job that leaves 31 years to work at SI, right?

    Again, take what you can get. Start making money, hammering out good clips and making the stupid mistakes we all make when we start out. It beats flipping burgers for damn sure, and is a hell of a lot cooler than digging holes or building houses. And I think it beats sitting around for months because you're convinced you're too good for a small paper or a weekly.

    Oh, also, always apply, even if you don't think you have a chance in hell. Everything I've ever gotten, from the school paper to the stringer job to the internship to this job I applied not thinking I really had a chance or I really wanted it. That, of course, includes bigger papers too. You can learn a lot at a small paper like mine, but clearly, if you can skip this step, that'd be great too.
  7. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    just keep plugging away. my first post-college gig didn't begin until the november after may graduation. i ended up at the place for 18 years. :eek: :eek: :eek:i
  8. Kritter47

    Kritter47 Member

    Thanks guys (and fellow southern gal)!

    I'm just really antsy to move out of my dad's house and get a real apartment, real job and real income. But it's encouraging to hear others say it took them a while to land that first job. One of my (broadcast) buddies from school had a steady gig in Wichita Falls as a general assignment reporter all lined up. It's stories like that that make me nervous, since I don't want to live with my parents the rest of my life.

    The only thing that makes me nervous about applying at very small papers is the pay scale. Do those papers generally pay enough to at least cover basic cost-of-living in their area? I'm not looking for anything fancy, but hearing stories of $24K a year is a bit intimidating.

    I'd do it. I might just have to eat ramen for a year.
  9. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    24K a year is just fine where I live. I pay about $400 a month in rent and don't go crazy spending on anything, but don't try very hard to save and still have an ok amount in my account now.

    It might not be in other markets, but it is no doubt enough here. I thought it was really on the lower end until I talked to a guy I went to school with and who made about 8k less at a job I considered better. While I was interviewing, 24.5k was the highest I heard, 19K the lowest.

    At least here in a fairly affluent suburb of a midwest city you can live on 24K. You might have to put the Benz on hold for a couple more years, but as long as you're not insanely stupid with money, you'll be fine.
  10. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I graduated from college in December a few years ago and interviewed for a few jobs before I finally was hired in late February. I didn't actually start working for almost three months after I graduated so don't get to worried yet. Try to keep stringing and check the job board here and journalismjobs.com every day. The first thing I did every morning back then was check the Web and send out more application packets to papers. Other than that enjoy having a little free time, because once you're employed you'll miss it.
  11. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    24K a year?

    Try 20K a year. Not AT ALL unheard of for the smaller papers. I have a friend with 10 years in the biz who was just offered a job at an 8K-circ. for $22K a year.

    Best of luck, Kritter. Just be prepared to be paid in pennies.
  12. Kritter47

    Kritter47 Member

    Thanks again for the advice everyone.

    I've only lived in or around big cities, so my ideas of what it takes to live on are skewed to the higher end. I don't have credit card debt and my college loans are pretty managable, which should help.

    I'll go throw a piece I did last year up on the writer's workshop board to get critiques on that. Then I'll go back to e-mailing everyone I've ever met asking about openings.
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