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Recent college grad seeking advice on job hunting

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Greg Johnson, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. Greg Johnson

    Greg Johnson New Member

    Graduated from Rutgers in May with a journalism & media studies degree, sports specialization certificate. Here's the CliffNotes version of my situation:

    Been having some pretty tough luck in my job hunt. Toward the end of April I gained traction on a couple openings in NY and Philly, but ended up not being offered a position before graduating.

    Spent the next month and a half applying to dozens of places (checking this forum, Indeed, JournalismJobs, etc.) and sending my resume out to editors, to little avail, before finally reaching out to a local paper I interned for last summer. Turned out to be great timing because one of the staffers was actually leaving, so the sports editor brought me in July 1 to discuss a full-time reporting/editing position covering a college football team and minor league baseball team. Had a verbal agreement there and told me I was unofficially his guy until they got corporate approval of the hire. After several delays, he tells me this morning that the corporate folks are now backpedaling on the hire, citing a 'hiring freeze throughout the cluster.' My guess is it's a financial cuts thing, but I'm still disappointed in the poor business practice.

    While all of this was going on, I heard back from an online sports media outlet two weeks ago on a fall digital media internship that I applied for in early June. Was chosen as one of 9 finalists for 4 spots and Skype interviewed with them last week. Found out about an hour after the local paper's update that I wasn't selected.

    Rough morning, to say the least, after I pretty much zeroed in on these places after weeks of talking to walls. Really thought one of them would work out if I stayed patient.

    Any ideas for breaking into media/writing/editing/PR, beyond simply blogging for a site for chump change when I have plenty of clips as is?

    Before you tell me that I'm only two months out of school, I think it's reasonable to expect something to get my feet wet at this point with my credentials. I wrote more than 300 stories for a reputable college paper for 3 years, covering eight different teams along the way and working my way up to sports editor in the spring of my junior year. That gig demanded around 40-50 hours a week on top of being a full-time student. Also had a reporting internship, as I mentioned earlier. I'm not sure what more I was supposed to do in college.

    Feel free to PM me if you'd like to see my resume.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
  2. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    I know some may think this is a stretch but I kind of think this mentality is a product of the "everybody gets a trophy" mentality that has become so prominent is youth activities the last couple decades. Students graduate college thinking they deserve a job. This is the second post we've seen like this in a month (which if I'm hiring I count this applicant out for failing to do research, since that thread is three pages long and is essentially the same thing, why can't I find a job out of college when my credentials are solid).

    To repeat what I said over there: Getting a full-time top notch job out of college just ain't the way it is for at least 90 percent of those looking, especially in sports journalism. Companies are cutting back staff left and right, and the jobs you apply are being filled by the Joe Blows with 10-15 years experience, because for every fresh out of college guy out there looking to get in this field there 3 Joe Blows looking to find employment.
    And if you are mainly applying in the major metros, you're going to find it even tougher.
    And having a job look likes its yours, only to have it fall through is becoming more commonplace. I know of one guy who was told he was hired, got out of his lease on his apartment, was driving to the new town only to be called and say management just put on a hiring freeze and since his paperwork wasn't on file yet, he wasn't hired after all. The dude was out of a job and out of a home.
    So when you do get one to say its yours, make sure you have been to HR to fill out the documents before you move.
    I know another guy who was a major metros main NBA beat writer, traveled with the team, went to every all-star game, and covered several NBA Finals, who now is a part time staffer at a small daily, not so much by his choice.
    I'd advise you to find any grunt work job you can, weeklies, minor dailies, any freelance and stringing you can find. And even after all that, with 10 years and thousand of solid articles under your belt, you may still not find a great job. That's reality.
    I'm not trying to discourage you, I'm trying to make you realize that the real job world aint like anything you've been through yet. The best candidates don't always get the job, be willing to accept that and work harder for the next opportunity that comes along. No matter how hard you work, you can always work harder, and it still may not be enough. Hopefully one day it is.
  3. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Active Member

    Welcome to reality. The news industry - not just papers, but digital media too - isn't exactly lined with cash and openings. There are hundreds of young guns just like you across the country, and many people who have experience who are looking to move up or change locations or change beats.

    You're in one of the most competitive and least available fields of employment. Things don't happen quick unless you know someone with hiring capabilities who really likes you.
  4. Florida_Man

    Florida_Man Member

    I'm just going to have to disagree with you here. As a young journalist and relatively recent college graduate, I'm probably biased, but so many of the journalists my age (myself include, I'd like to think) bust their asses. I've never felt entitled to anything and I've never picked that up from any of the halfway-decent student/young journalists I know. I never see whining, no "Wah, why haven't I gotten a job with a major metro yet?" It's always, "What can I do to get in the door at a good paper?"

    With that said, OP, I get what you're feeling. Summer is almost over. It feels like "school" time again, and you think you should be doing something. Like I said in the other thread, a couple months is not that bad. The chances of something falling into your lap are slim, even though it sounds like something almost did. I was basically in your exact same position a year ago, and the best advice I can give you is, if this is what you want to do, keep plugging away. Make your job search national. Apply for everything you see. Eventually, you'll get a shot.
  5. Greg Johnson

    Greg Johnson New Member

    So, only 10% of college graduates in this field make a full-time living within a decade? That seems a bit farfetched. 90% of journalism majors weren't sports editors at top 100 universities. Those aren't "Joe Blows" looking for a participation trophy. How silly.

    I hear what you're saying, but I'm not looking for a "top notch job" right now. I understand what this field is and that you have to work your way up from ground zero to land good beats and come anywhere close to the top of the food chain. But I also just came as close to landing a full-time position as you can without getting one only two months after graduation, so I'd like to believe there's something out there -- at least close to full-time work -- I can get started with before 10 years go by. Not just exclusively beat writing, but anything with social media, research, design, public relations, etc. There's a lot out there and a lot of different media to work with besides just newspaper stringing.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
    Potter likes this.
  6. Greg Johnson

    Greg Johnson New Member

    Thanks for the advice. I see the other thread now.
  7. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    Apply for every news and sports reporter job posted on JournalismJobs and state newspaper association websites if you're serious about wanting a career in journalism.
  8. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    You're two months out of college.
    franticscribe likes this.
  9. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    The worst thing to do was reaching out to management at the paper you interned for after your shotgun approach didn't pan out. It's also not poor business practice for an editor to interview candidates when he thought he could fill a position. Things happen.
  10. Greg Johnson

    Greg Johnson New Member

    Well, I didn't see the harm in fishing for what else was out there. They didn't have an opening until one of the staffers left at the beginning of the month anyway, so I don't think that made a difference. Timing was actually perfect besides HR deciding to make cuts at the last minute.

    And no, I'm not blaming the editor. He was genuine, contrite and did all he could to keep me in the loop through the whole process. I just think it's terrible that HR people would give a go-ahead to fill a position, only to deny giving a final thumbs up a couple weeks later. If there are financial issues, figure that out before giving the go-ahead to interview candidates.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    My advice as a former upper mid-major sports editor:

    1. Don't burn bridges if you interview and don't get the job. Keep in touch. You might get the next one. Last 2-3 people I hired were finalists who didn't get the previous job. They wound up with better jobs.

    2. Don't just apply to jobs open and wait. Reach out for potential jobs. If the editor has you in mind when something does come open you are ahead of the game. Let the editor where you interned and journalism professors know you are looking. They may be able to put in a good word.

    3. APSE national conventions and regional seminars are great places to meet sports editors and get your name out there if you can swing it.

    4. Hiring freezes and all that are just bad luck, not something to knock a paper over. The editors may have been assured everything was fine until some word came down and the rug was pulled.

    5. Your resume and cover letter better tell me what you can do for me. So highlight your experience, talent, news-gathering, social media, video, etc. I'm glad you graduated but 99 percent of recent grads lead with that. I want to know what you can do for me.

    6. Pretty much everyone ever hired straight out of J-school was the editor of the school paper, sports editor or section editor.

    Good luck.
    I Should Coco and Tweener like this.
  12. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Yes, you are looking for a top-notch job right now. And if you're not, you should be. But even if you're really not, and you'd be willing to accept anything (and no, I don't believe you would be), the point is, you're saying you'd like to believe there's something out there for you.

    Well, you know that there probably is. It just hasn't come to you yet and/or you haven't found it yet. The point of joe_schmoe's response to you was that you're in a numbers crunch. There are way more capable -- and more-than-capable -- media members and prospective media members out there than there are real, regular, on-staff full-time jobs. There are, however, lots of part-time positions, lots of opportunities to freelance and lots of opportunities to blog, tweet, and post to your heart's content as long as you don't need great pay or benefits. Media outlets know this, and those are the gigs they want you to take, and those are, primarily, the gigs being offered and that are easiest to get.

    And honestly, Joe Blow has almost as good a chance of latching on to such a job as any hard-working, accomplished young journalist out of Rutgers. That's the reality of the situation. Why do you think there are some many fan, stats and recruiting-news sites (which make full use of the Joe Blows of the world)?

    You just have to wait it out. There's no way around it, but if you keep working, keep interviewing and keep making contacts and reaching out, you'll get something that will be worth it to you. It just hasn't happened yet.

    And, unfortunately, it might take long enough that you might have to take some other job in the interim.
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