At Tuesday’s Digital Journalism Job Summit, we’ll have a Google Plus Hangout with three recent SMU alums who all are thriving as Web-empowered media professionals:
- Sarah Acosta is an entertainment reporter, blogger and videographer for her hometown newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
- Elisabeth Brubaker is a production assistant for Piers Morgan Tonight at CNN in New York City. (She made a virtual class appearance earlier this semester.)
- Mackenzie O’Hara is a communication consultant at PartnerComm, Inc., an internal public relations firm based in Arlington.
Come with questions! And please read these helpful tips from Marissa O’Connor, a programming coordinator for new media at E! Online in Los Angeles:
I’d like to think I learned a thing or two over my job search proccess so here goes! I apologize in advance for any typos..
1) ENJOY YOURSELF: Enjoy your last few weeks at SMU, they really are some of the best weeks of your entire college career. Graduation, especially the Meadows graduation is such an amazing time spent with your family AND friends!
2) Don’t think you need a job by May 15. You don’t. You’ve worked really hard the past four years and the right job is out there. I remember thinking I should apply to jobs I didn’t really want, just to have “a job” by May 15 like my older siblings had. That couldn’t be more false! In reality, this could be your last summer without a 9-5 job, so enjoy yourself!
3) …that being said, DON’T CREATE A GAP IN YOUR RESUME. The beauty of journalism is you can build your resume anytime any where. Could an accountant build their resume while laying on the beach all summer? No. Journalists can! I spent my summer after college writing for WhatsUpTucket, a social media hub for the island of Nantucket off of Cape Cod. (www.whatsuptucket.com) I wrote every week, if not every day. I had so much fun interviewing people and writing stories covering what was happening on the island. No matter what you’re doing this summer, blog about it! Tweet about it. Talk about it! Even if it’s “20 things I learned in summer 2012”- use your digital journalism skills and turn it into a piece you can bring in to interviews! When I interviewed at E! for my current job in New Media, they wanted to hear more about my summer writing for WhatUpTucket than my summer spent interning at The View in NYC. I specifically talked about how the site truly branded itself and wrote for a unique audience. This is something all of you have probably already done on your website!
4) NETWORK! It really is the name of the game. While on Nantucket for the summer I met so many different people who knew so many different people who worked in the entertainment field. SO many people you don’t even know yet want to help you find a job! (Myself included!) Tell people upfront that you just graduated from SMU with a degree in journalism, tell them about the Daily Update, your personal website etc! People will listen and they will help you – so don’t be shy and definitely don’t be embarrassed to say you don’t have a job yet! Trust me, you’re in good company!
5) The Job Search: Be patient, but be persistent! Make a list of job sites that you’re interested in and check them a few times a week. http://www.nbcunicareers.com where I found my job, updates their website EVERY day! I would research jobs every Monday and Wednesday of the week last summer and I typically waited to apply to jobs on a Monday or Tuesday. I’m not sure if there’s any truth behind this, but I didn’t think people would be interested in my emails on a Thursday or Friday when they were thinking about the weekend! Also, create a list of companies you’d like to work for and follow them on twitter! Starting today. If you’re interested in ESPN, follow @RecruiterStacy – she tweets jobs all the time! So does @DisneyABC, foxcareers, etc. I was given the advice to apply for jobs that had “coordinator or assistant” in the title. Don’t be dismayed at careers that require 2-3 years of experience- majority will! Mine did! You have been immersing yourself in many different news platforms the past four years of college — and your hard work should be credited! Talk about your digital journalism work; your knowledge of vimeo, wordpress, garageband etc! Recruiters LOVE to hear from young people who have a good grasp on the futue of the industry, and all of you do!
6) You found the perfect job – but how do you let them know you’d be perfect for it? Many times when I was applying for jobs online I was convinced my resume and cover letters were getting lost in cyberspace. There really is no way to be sure that a job you submit online gets read by the proper person. Try to find someone in HR at the company- many times even just googling the company and HR you can locate a recruiter. Also, don’t be shy about asking around! If your cousin’s friend’s brother works at Good Morning America and that’s your dream – send him a facebook message simply asking if he knows the contact information for HR. You’re not asking for a job, you’re simply asking for an email address and everyone who has a job today was in your position at one point. If you can, drop in to the place you’re applying and submit your resume in person. This sounds so old fashioned, but I know many people who landed job this way! It show that you’re eager and enthusiastic.
7) Interviewing: I truly believe that landing an interview is harder than nailing an interview. Once you have an interview lined up prepare yourself – update your website, tweak your resume, and show up to the interview with writing samples. Be enthusiastic! If nothing else, leave the interview knowing that you were the most enthusiastic person they met that day. Many recruiters are just looking for personalities that are teachable — you can learn any skill set with the right personality and eagerness to learn. Show up prepared with questions – one question I asked was “What is the most common mistake new hires make?” – and people always love that question! People also love to talk about themselves- ask them how they got their start in the industry, where they went to college etc. Highlight your work at SMU and in internships. Be prepared to talk about things you learned along the way. I always say that during my summer at The View, one of the main things I learned was managing personalities. On and off the screen, ‘The View’ is made up of a cast of characters- there were so many unique personalities and learning how to work with each one of them was the hardest part of the job! It’s “real world” experience like that which shows people that at 21/22 you’re prepared for the industry.
If you need any help brainstorming or talking about ways to highlight your skill set have a mock interview with Jake or Lucy!
Good luck y’all — and congrats on graduating!
Remember: there’s no better time to be a journalist! Really!
All the best,