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Newsrooms not for everyone: Journalism grads have options


Cartoon from Political Graffiti Independent Political Cartoons.

Denzel Washington has a journalism degree from Fordham University. No, most graduates will not go on to be critically acclaimed actors, but landing in a traditional newsroom is not inevitable.

Journalism students leave college with dozens of extremely useful and applicable skills. They include: conveying ideas in a quick and concise way, thinking critically, writing sentences free of grammatical errors and communicating clearly.  Along with these traditional skills, J-schools  also are sending their students out in the real world with more  digital skills. They’re learning to use social media and build websites. People with all of these abilities have options.

Many students will continue on to a higher degree program after receiving an undergraduate degree. Law, teaching and business are common paths for those wanting to further their education. Having degrees in multiple areas makes an applicant more competitive. Some are also staying in school longer to delay having to find a job in a tough market.

For those going straight into the work force, there are many possibilities. Book editing is an interesting career that is not going away. E-books have reminded people that they love to read. Journalists have the skills needed for this field. Most probably already love reading, and editing skills are perfectly honed for the job. An online engagement specialist is another career opportunity for journalists. This is a position companies create to help get the word out about their companies on their own through social media, websites and blogs instead of traditional media.

Marketing and public relations positions are a great fit for journalists because of a journalism skill set. They know how to communicate and think about situations from different angles. Freelance journalism is booming. And news websites offer another career path.  Companies like Patch cover local news around the country on websites. Patch has hired hundreds of reporters and editors in the past two years. Depending on a journalism student’s other areas of study, such as political science, computer programing, or sports, there are even more job possibilities. As the journalism industry and the Internet become completely co-dependent, programmers can create new ways to tell stories through Flash and other alternative story forms.

Looking to the future, new jobs are being created in the journalism field everyday. Five years ago, there was not a social communication strategist on anyone’s payroll. Now companies are hiring people specifically to create a presence in social media. Lauren Krause graduated from Loyola University with a communications degree and then struggled to find a job in her field until the Chicago Tribune created the Trib Nation coordinator position. Krause’s advice to journalism students is to be flexible and adapt.

If working for a newspaper is still the goal, Journalismjobs.com suggests looking at smaller cities. For those looking to branch into non-traditional fields, start applying for anything and everything. Along with Journalismjobs.com, websites like LinkedIn and Media Bistro connect journalists looking for jobs with employers all over the country.

As we have all heard a thousand times, experience is the key. Get multiple internships and jobs in a variety of fields until you find your niche.

-Kylie Morrison-Sloat

Categories: guest posts Tags: , ,
  1. Mallory
    November 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I think this is a really good post. I think that professors sometimes overlook the careers that students might be interested in other than working for newspapers. College is meant to prepare us for the job market, but the journalism market is in a state of flux. Looking into other possible jobs is smart for journalism students. With the increasing use of the internet for journalism, one person is able to do multiple jobs. The key, as you pointed out, is for students to find their niche. They might decide that a job in a newsroom is not the right fit for them. For me, combining the skills I’ve learned in college with my other interests is the key.

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