So you’re in college and have decided you want to someday be a journalist. But you’re not sure what you should be doing now to increase your chances of landing a job in the news business after graduation.
Fear not. I’ve been working in journalism, either as a reporter, editor or professor, for over 30 years. I’ve counseled dozens of students on what they can do to increase their marketability in the job market. Here are the five things I tell them to do, and while I can’t guarantee that these measures will work, they will certainly increase your chances.
- Write for your student newspaper – Everyone who wants to work in the news business should do this, whether you are a journalism student or not. Start writing for your student newspaper as soon as possible, and keep writing for it until the day you graduate. Doing this will be step one of a long process that will hopefully one day land you a job in professional journalism. And it’s probably the single most important thing you can do to boost your resume.
- Become an editor at your student newspaper – This is the next step. Taking on an editor position shows you have a deep commitment not just to the student newspaper but to mastering the craft of journalism. Becoming an editor shows that you’re serious about becoming a journalist.
- Get an internship – Doing an internship at a professional news outlet, which usually happens sometime in your junior or senior year of college, shows you are ready to move from student journalism to the big leagues. A good internship should help you get good clips for your portfolio and great references from the people you work with.
- Build your clip portfolio – Clips, which are stories you’ve had published, can make or break a job application. Just one great clip can be the deciding factor in whether you get hired or not. That’s why it’s important to write as much as possible and constantly update your clip portfolio, which, by the way, should be online.
- Learn tech skills – We all know that journalism in the digital age involves technology every step of the way, so mastering as many tech skills while in college is a no-brainer. The good news is that many of these skills are relatively easy to learn, and can usually be acquired while working for your college newspaper. Such skills include blogging and website management, digital photography, shooting and editing digital video and using social media. And, oh yes, don’t forget layout.
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