TIPA Notes: Career prep for journalists

Here are some of Lindsey Juarez’s notes from the TIPA convention.

For me, this year’s TIPA helped me as far as thinking about my future career in journalism. My favorite workshop was the one with Joan Khalaf, Caleb Slinkard and James Bright. Rather than listening to professors or others tell me what employers are looking for, I got to hear from the employers what they are looking for. I learned that I need to build more clips and get more experience as a reporter before I graduate. I’m also relieved that they are not too concerned about extracurricular activities because they understand how much work a college journalist does. Overall, it’s important to get experience and clips now while I’m in college, even if I don’t get paid for it. I think it’s important to teach the staff where they can submit their work so professional newspapers can see it.

Making a living in journalism after college: James Bright (The Express-Star), Joan Khalaf (D Magazine), Caleb Slinkard (Greenville Herald Banner)

This whole session was a Q&A with media professionals about what employers are looking for when you apply for jobs.

  • Extracurricular activities are nice, but employers prefer to see clips. Employers care more about clips than GPAs or awards, as well.
  • Employers also like seeing degrees.
  • Be prepared to not make much money out of college.
  • If newspapers aren’t hiring, try magazines. They are more featurey and less newsy.
  • It’s good to be a jack-of-all-trades with multimedia. Know how to write, edit, shoot video and photography. You will make mistakes and you won’t be specialized right out of college.
  • Publications love freelancers. Try to submit your work for free so you can get on an editor’s “call list.”
  • Despite what many think, knowing how to work social media and web design isn’t extremely important. That’s something that can either be taught or that the company can hire a specialist for.
  • Clean up your social media because employers look for people who can represent the company both inside and outside of work. Show that you are a responsible person.
  • With your clips, make sure you have a strong lead and a good structure. The whole package is important: headline, words and structure.
  • To make clips more interesting, play with verbs to make your writing more interesting. This is the best way to be creative with your pieces.
  • Having an editor position on your resume is OK. Employers look for leadership and people skills. However, go back to being a reporter at some point to get more experience and clips. Also, have an outgoing personality.
  • Employers love confidence, quick thinkers, positive attitudes and energy. (Also, make sure you have a strong hand shake)
  • Know all aspects of the newspaper (even design). It’s important to know the work flow of your story.
  • Community newspapers are growing and making money. Apply for those first before trying to get a job at a metro paper. (Magazines are also growing)
  • Note: Phone calls to editors about your application are annoying.
  • Make sure your application is free of typos. Have someone look over it before you submit it.
  • Employers like to see a digital copy of your portfolio. Bring a USB drive to an interview so he or she can download it and review it later.
  • If you don’t know how to edit video, find a free webinar to learn how.
  • If you are truly bilingual, include that on your resume.
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