Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Preparing for the job

As all students do, I worry about how prepared I will be come graduation, to take a job in my field. Unlike many other majors, however, journalism is changing, and fast. So are the required skills.

Mindy McAdams, Ryan Sholin and Howard Owens, among many others, have blogged about the changing skill set of journalists.

Others in the field or education have reinforced basic reporting skills and ethics.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but it seems to me that, even having taken all the right classes and learned all the right things, getting a job will still be a challenge.

I got into journalism halfway through college. Many of my peers have had multiple internships; I haven’t even had one. Not that I don’t want to, or don’t think I can, but my circumstances have been such that I either wasn’t ready or I couldn’t afford to add an internship to a difficult semester.

Now, with (officially) a year left, panic sets in. I’ve several opportunities open to me, and my first thought is to try to take them all at once. A job at school that will expose me to the field. Working at the Independent Florida Alligator. An internship at The Gainesville Sun.

I know that, in addition to classes and my 20-hour work week, taking all three opportunities at once is a recipe for a psychotic break. What I don’t know is how to narrow down my options to what will be most beneficial to my career. Where will I learn more? Where will I get the most experience?

  • If you’re going to stay on campus and work for the school paper, it better be as some sort of hardcore multimedia reporter/producer.

    If you want to cut your teeth as a writer or editor on a daily, do it, but produce multimedia anyway. Just start shooting and building stuff on your own, so you have more than just a bunch of print clips to drag around to job fairs and interviews.

    If at all possible, get off the reservation and go work for the Sun.

  • If you’re going to stay on campus and work for the school paper, it better be as some sort of hardcore multimedia reporter/producer.

    If you want to cut your teeth as a writer or editor on a daily, do it, but produce multimedia anyway. Just start shooting and building stuff on your own, so you have more than just a bunch of print clips to drag around to job fairs and interviews.

    If at all possible, get off the reservation and go work for the Sun.

  • Whether at the Sun or the Alligator I’d be doing multimedia.

    The dilemma is whether to work at a paper that already has a decent multimedia/online dept. (Sun) or go to the Alligator, which has like 3 people updating the site and creating multimedia, and help create a decent multimedia/online presence there.

  • Whether at the Sun or the Alligator I’d be doing multimedia.

    The dilemma is whether to work at a paper that already has a decent multimedia/online dept. (Sun) or go to the Alligator, which has like 3 people updating the site and creating multimedia, and help create a decent multimedia/online presence there.

  • Whether at the Sun or the Alligator I’d be doing multimedia.

    The dilemma is whether to work at a paper that already has a decent multimedia/online dept. (Sun) or go to the Alligator, which has like 3 people updating the site and creating multimedia, and help create a decent multimedia/online presence there.

  • Thought you might be interested in checking out CubReporters.org, an online career guide for young journalists and college students.

  • Thought you might be interested in checking out CubReporters.org, an online career guide for young journalists and college students.

  • I have thought about this since graduating and wondered what I would change if I could do it all again.

    For one thing, I probably wouldn’t have spent the summer between freshman and sophomore year working at a bowling alley. But, as you alluded to, I didn’t really have the experience yet to jump into journalism full-steam ahead.

    The following summer, when I did have enough experience to muster an internship, I opted to stick around and be managing editor of the student newspaper. I had an amazing summer, learned a lot about the paper and the city, got a jump start on my junior year and made some of my best friends from college.

    Then, the following summer, I interned at a smallish (22,500 circ.) newspaper.

    So, what would I do differently if I could re-write my undergrad experience? First, I’d keep my campus media experience 100 percent intact. I don’t know how much you’ve done or what, but I touched pretty much all the magazine’s as a writer and Web master and did every position from proofing the pages to editor-in-chief at the newspaper. Moving up the chain at the paper and learning the magazine’s editorial process was invaluable. I learned more in three years of doing that than 10 internships could have taught me.

    Other than that? Man I WISH I’d jumped on an internship freshman or sophomore year. If for no other reason than it would have led to a better internship between junior and senior year. And a better internship likely would have led to a better job or more money. If nothing else, it would have been a chance to explore a new city and get to learn from more editors. I don’t know for certain, but it would not have hurt to have that additional experience.

    Only you can decide what’s right for you. But, if I were in your position, my hand would already be reaching toward the Sun.

  • I have thought about this since graduating and wondered what I would change if I could do it all again.

    For one thing, I probably wouldn’t have spent the summer between freshman and sophomore year working at a bowling alley. But, as you alluded to, I didn’t really have the experience yet to jump into journalism full-steam ahead.

    The following summer, when I did have enough experience to muster an internship, I opted to stick around and be managing editor of the student newspaper. I had an amazing summer, learned a lot about the paper and the city, got a jump start on my junior year and made some of my best friends from college.

    Then, the following summer, I interned at a smallish (22,500 circ.) newspaper.

    So, what would I do differently if I could re-write my undergrad experience? First, I’d keep my campus media experience 100 percent intact. I don’t know how much you’ve done or what, but I touched pretty much all the magazine’s as a writer and Web master and did every position from proofing the pages to editor-in-chief at the newspaper. Moving up the chain at the paper and learning the magazine’s editorial process was invaluable. I learned more in three years of doing that than 10 internships could have taught me.

    Other than that? Man I WISH I’d jumped on an internship freshman or sophomore year. If for no other reason than it would have led to a better internship between junior and senior year. And a better internship likely would have led to a better job or more money. If nothing else, it would have been a chance to explore a new city and get to learn from more editors. I don’t know for certain, but it would not have hurt to have that additional experience.

    Only you can decide what’s right for you. But, if I were in your position, my hand would already be reaching toward the Sun.

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