College goes by quickly. If you play it right, your college years will prepare you for the job market. As a graduating senior, I’ve compiled a list of tips that every journalism major should know. Think of it as a list of must-dos to accomplish before you graduate. These tips will not only help you make the most of your college years but they will help you land a job after graduation.
1. Work for a local station or publication
Local news is everywhere. So whether it’s your local newspaper, television station or magazine – go out and find something. Think of local news as a training ground for any type of journalism you’ll ever do. Chances are, if you work at a local outlet you will do general reporting and cover everything from crime to farming to politics. This will equip you with a solid foundation for finding sources, writing and coming up with story ideas.
Added bonus: Even if you don’t end up working for the publication, working for a local station or publication presents a wonderful chance to learn more about the community you’re living in.
2. Build a website
It’s pretty simple; you need one. While we can’t predict the future of journalism, it’s safe to say web and mobile journalism will continue to become more and more prominent. It’s always better to be ahead of a trend than to be left behind. Hone your web skills.
Extra tip: Even if you’re not pursuing a career in television, utilize videos on your website. The easiest way to do this is to upload videos to YouTube and then embed YouTube links into your website.
3. Go abroad
In order to be a successful journalist you have to be a curious, street-smart person. Spending time in a foreign country broadens your perspective, builds your independence and gives you experience dealing with people who are different than you. As a journalist, you meet different people and go to new places practically every day. Living in a different country prepares you to handle this aspect of the job with grace and ease.
Countries to consider: Italy, Portugal, Thailand, Spain
4. Learn a little bit of everything
Writing, web design, video, radio, print, advertising, marketing, public relations. LEARN IT ALL. You will never be told that you are “too versatile”.
Something to consider: You may have access to editing software (Photoshop, InDesign, Adobe Premiere, etc.) at your college or university for free. Learn the software while you have cheap access.
5. Stick with the basics. Learn and utilize the journalistic fundamentals.
Do not underestimate the power of accurate reporting and solid writing. Those strong fundamentals are essential to your success.
Writing actively and writing interchangeably between AP and broadcast style are two invaluable skills. As long as you learn the basics and stick to them, you will have an advantage over other people competing for the jobs you want.