To be frank, journalism is a tough job market – especially now. The field is changing and positions are being eliminated. Yet, this is also one of the fields that offers a great deal of opportunities for students to take advantage of to build up their resumé before they even graduate. This should be a particularly appealing concept right now since the ability to build experience in the actual workforce after graduation is dwindling before our eyes – for several fields. But thankfully, there is still a lot of freedom for journalism students to get their bylines out there.
The most obvious go-to is the plethora of sites out there with opportunities for students to write articles and blog posts on virtually any topic. It is typically not too difficult to get on a website’s list of contributing writers and subsequently get the option to pitch and write a piece every now and then. There are endless sites out there that just rely on opinions and creativity to present such articles, but there are also many that allow student writers to stretch themselves a little more and do some real reporting on the subject of their choice. Whether you dream of writing hard-news articles or magazine features, there is a spot on the internet for you to get your words published. Many famous and well-respected news publications have created college branches online, such as USA TODAY College or Huffington Post College. With a simple Google search, you will find no end to these mediums and are guaranteed to find at least one, if not many, sites that fit your style. Also, don’t forget about freelancing. Many publications, especially ones like The Patch, give aspiring journalists in all locations the opportunity to report on and write up stories.
Of course, the student newspaper is integral to a journalism major’s career. This is one of the best opportunities you can make use of, as it will get your byline out there but more importantly, give you intense and direct experience in the journalism world. Many graduates who came out of student newspapers say that was where they really were able to get on their feet and learn a lot through hands-on experience. The editors of a student newspaper tend to take the operation very seriously and have high standards for their staff. Being composed of all students, this gives each and every one of you moments to shine as a responsible worker whose publication is depending on them, something that will be emphasized more than you can imagine when in the workforce. Pitching ideas, writing under tight deadlines, covering breaking news, tracking down people for interviews – all of which you’ll be doing while you’re a student with a full class schedule – will teach you and prepare you better than most journalism classes alone will. And don’t forget that if you really devote yourself, the chance to grow and take on a leadership position will come upon you. Nothing will make applying for something like a Managing Editor job at an established journal post-graduation easier than being able to say you have held that type of position already
With these great notations to put on your resumé, the next and final step is to land internships. You’ve developed a great elevator speech already and you haven’t even been hired by a publication yet, so acquiring internships should be feasible. You’re so much better off than you would have been had you not gone after the aforementioned opportunities. Making sure you get as much solid internship experience as you can before graduation will really increase your chances of getting a job later on. If your hands-on experience carries over from the student newspaper into professional newsrooms, your journalism major will continue to be fulfilled in the best ways possible.
If you follow this path of action, you will be doing more than studying journalism – you’ll be living it. Isn’t that what we all strive to do as soon as possible regarding our careers? A journalism student can get real live glimpses of their dream by seeing their name in print before they are even hired. They can uncover a story and get credit for it. Put your skills to use frequently enough as a student and you’ll be getting paid to do these things before you know it.