10 things you can do NOW to get a media job in the future
1. Start building your brand In the past, all employers knew about you is what you provided: cover letter, resume, references. Today, employers can google you. What will they see? Your entire career will involve developing your personal brand. Start now by building an online presence that projects the right image. Buy the url with your name: (BonnieGross.com. is taken by a Tulsa Realtor.)
2. Get your writing published Write for the University Press. Or, write for a blog or website. Keep a good-quality physical “clip” or make a digital copy of the webpage. (A screenshot is good.) It’s important to have work you can show. You may get better clips down the road, but start collecting your work now.
3. Join LinkedIn and build professional contacts LinkedIn is a career-oriented social networking site. Make contact with professors, people who have worked in media you may meet, people from internships, other students. As people change jobs and e-mail addresses, they will update LinkedIn and you will stay connected. Follow local journalists on Twitter.
4. Read and use a wide range of media Make a habit of looking at news website and keeping up on current events. You can’t fake that and the cumulative knowledge will make you a better job candidate down the road.
5. Create a “job alert” and follow media jobs CareerBuilder makes it easy to create a weekly job alert that fits your criteria. (Example: editor, writer, producer.) It allows you to passively observe what types of jobs are open and what skills are desired. Over time, with little work, you will learn about positions and employers.
6. Plan your life around an internship Most internships today do not pay. The few that do are very competitive. Most unpaid internships require that you get class credit. Plan a semester or summer during which you will work at an internship. This might require sacrificing income (reducing work hours) that semester. It’s worth it.
7. Start learning all you can about internships Make yourself an expert on internships. Talk to students who have had them. Find out how they got them and what they would do differently next time. Do online research. Look at media outlets websites to see if there is internship information online.
8. Create a resume Create a one-page resume and update it throughout your school career. Focus on your media-related experiences and skills. Use other jobs (summer camps; retail) in secondary, supporting roles to establish you can hold down a job. Seeing how much/how little you have to list on a resume can spur you on.
9. Get a volunteer “job” that beefs up your resume Internships aren’t the only experiences that can build up your resume. Volunteer opportunities that involve media work for non-profits look good too. Example: Volunteer in the PR department of a large charity, such as Food for the Poor. These opportunities may not already exist. You may need to pro-actively propose them. Use LinkedIn to find contacts.
10. Conduct yourself as a journalist, at all times. “Anytime you post online, you publish. Anything you say or do that might be posted by someone else reflects upon that brand that you'll be working so hard to build. Don't undercut your hard work with moments of Facebook foolishness” – Robert Niles. Assume everything on Facebook is public, but still take care with your privacy settings.