How do I begin?
First, figure out what you want. Do you need to live in a certain city or region? Do you want to be at a small publication or broadcast station – where fewer journalists do many jobs — or do you want to start small in a bigger place?
Assess your skills and experience. Have you lived in a certain area, making you especially qualified to cover it? Do you have a background or interest in a particular subject: science, technology, business, music, art, politics, sports? Do you speak a language that would be useful in a certain place? Consider applying for jobs that demand your specialties.
In general, if you want a magazine career you should stay in New York City, the magazine capital of the world.
But in the newspaper field, fledgling reporters typically start at small or mid-size dailies in all parts of the country before aiming for the bigger ones.
Broadcast grads could go either way: If you really want to stay in New York, do it — unless you want to be on the air or an anchor. In New York the on-air competition is stiff, so on-air hopefuls should seek out smaller markets. But grads who start out in low-level network production jobs can go on to successful producing careers without leaving New York.
Keep up with what’s happening in the field. Talk to your professors. Read the trade websites, including:
- MediaWire http://poynter.org
- MediaBistro http://mediabistro.com
- TVNewser http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/
- I Want Media http://iwantmedia.com
- Editor & Publisher http://www.editorandpublisher.com
- Broadcasting & Cable http://broadcastingcable.com
Take note of The New York Times’ Monday business section on the media and information industries. It’s your profession; know all you can about the news and trends inside it.
Where do I find job leads?
When a reporter, editor or producer comes to your class or speaks at the school, introduce yourself, ask questions and send a note afterward. Also, find out where alumni are working and make appointments to talk to them. You’re not asking for a job — just advice. The more people you meet and stay in touch with, the better chance a job lead will come your way. Keep building your network and let people know what you’re looking for. That includes, of course, the Office of Career Services and all your journalism professors. Professional journalism organizations can also help you widen your net.
Contact your supervisors at your internships. You can’t bank on getting a job with your internship employer, even if you did great work. But it happens: Students get jobs at their place of internship.
Journalism job-posting sites are well worth checking regularly.
Also: Send an application to the places you would absolutely love to work for, even if no opening exists. Ask to set up an informational interview, and stay in touch with any contacts you make there. Your passion and respect for what the place does will come across. And when a job does open up, chances are they’ll remember you. To find contact info for magazines, newspapers and broadcast outlets across the country, check the organization’s website or databases online. (The school’s Research Center can help you find the good sites.) Databases go out of date quickly, so double-check all contact info by calling the organization before you send anything.
How should I send my application?
Email or snail mail — both are okay. Usually, the employer will specify the method. Phone calls are not okay, especially if you call when an editor or producer is on deadline. If you send an email, make it letter-perfect, and paste your resume into the body of the message, as well as attaching it as a Word document. That way, a busy employer can choose whether to just print out your email message or print out the Word version of your resume.
There are several ways to submit clips, including hyperlinking, listing the URLs and/or sending attachments of your articles in an email. Be sure to list your website on your resume. What’s important is that you make your material very accessible and easy for the recipient to read.
If you’re a broadcast student, say in your cover letter that you have a demo reel available. But send it only on request. Otherwise it probably won’t get looked at.
How far in advance should I start job hunting?
Network building should start many months in advance. If you want to work elsewhere in the country, contact several employers in that region and tell them you’ll be coming to their area for a couple of days. Then get interviews set up before you go. You should also attend as many job fairs as you can — they’re a great place to meet recruiters. The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism will hold a job fair each fall for its students, where you can meet with recruiters for one-on-one interviews.
By a month or two before your graduation, you should be hard at work applying for jobs. Some job offers take weeks to materialize, but others happen very quickly.