I create, design, and write for the Emerson College Journalism Department’s newsletter. Below is an article I wrote about what journalism students should do to get a job after they graduate for our most recent issue (April/May 2012).
The designed page:
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So You Graduated. Now What?
By Alexa Lash
Whether you dread or embrace graduation doesn’t matter; you’re graduating. But being a journalist should be a comfort: you’re good at research, you know how to talk to people, how to network; and the jobs you are applying for aren’t the regular 9-to-5s (for the most part). But like any good article, your next steps after graduation require an outline, quotes, and attention to detail. You must attack your post-grad life with equal ardor. The story of your life is too significant not to make a front page. As a recent graduate, here are a few tips for what to start doing now that you’ve flown the educational coop.
Clip It Together
You should be saving every piece you publish, and highlighting your best pieces in an online portfolio. For broadcast students, make sure your reel is clean, organized, and showcases your best work. If you don’t already have one, consider creating a website with links to your reel, print/electronic portfolio, and resume. You could also add a blog element to showcase more of your writing (but don’t make this your only writing sample).
Find out from your professors if they know someone who’s hiring (your professors are a valuable resource when it comes to getting a job). Attend alumni events, and bring your business card when you’re going to meet visiting speakers and students. Trade contact information with classmates and keep in touch—you never know who will be your next coworker, or even your boss. Keep connected on a professional network like LinkedIn. Attend conferences and networking events with desired employers.
See the Sites
The dedicated job-seeker should be visiting sites with frequent journalism job postings such as mediabistro.com. Follow job sites on Twitter and Facebook. Visit the employment section of companies you want to work for.
Do Your Post-Grad Homework
If you want to work somewhere specific, or you want to pitch a story to a particular publication, get to know the names of your editors. Use an online resource or a directory such as Bacons Media Directory (available at the Emerson Library). Become familiar with the style and content of the company you’re contacting—employers take notice of a good journalist who’s done his/her research.
You may not come out of school with your dream job at a big company, but you do have ways of getting to it. Don’t be afraid to work for a small publication or network. Oftentimes, you’ll end up doing more types of work, and end up with more diversified experience than other candidates you’re up against when applying at a large publication.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Write in a blog, take video of an event, but don’t stop using the skills you learned in college. You want to remain active with your journalism skills. Doing this can also lead to stories you may want to pitch in a cover letter, or to a publication as a freelance piece.
Master Your Skills
If you’re graduating as an undergraduate, don’t rule out getting your Master’s degree. This is a great tactic in finding a specialization (such as science journalism), and an effective tool if you want to later teach Journalism.