What I Think Every Journalism Student Needs

As an always-busy college journalism student, I thought today’s post would cover what I think every journalism student needs for optimum success. (Keep in mind, this is all based on what I’ve learned so far.)

Courtesy of tumblr.com

  • Online portfolio [Weebly]

Weebly is an online portfolio site (there are many), and I’ve recently learned how important that your portfolio, writing samples, work experience and resume should be online. It’s easy to use. Future employers can read everything or download and print. Another thing about Weebly, it’s super easy for beginners to use. I’d definitely recommend creating one, and then make sure you keep updating it! (Helpful tip: With your resume, you should list all of your “relevant coursework” and a small summary, because in college, that is the bulk of your experience.)

  • Hard copy of your resume & portfolio/writing samples

With that being said, it’s still crucial to have hard copies of everything. I literally went to Michael’s and bought artist portfolios that I can slip my work between the sleeves. (I have two; one from my high school paper and one for my internship blog. And I’ll probably need another for my college work.) Going to an interview works the best when you are organized with copies of your resumes, writing samples and portfolio work will always impress.

  • LinkedIn profile

This is extremely important for networking. LinkedIn is perfect for connecting with employers, friends and family, because you never know who you’ll have a mutual connection with. Networking is probably one of the biggest tips I could give you about being a professional journalist. Get out there and meet people. Not only that, but prove your prowess and your skills!

  • Professional Twitter account

Now, I love my personal Twitter as much as the next person, but I can admit that it won’t help me find a job. Tweeting about college traditions, friends, your reality TV guilty pleasures, et cetera won’t seem impressive to prospective employers. And yes, employers will check your social media presence, ESPECIALLY as a journalist. My professional Twitter I use for tweeting things about journalism, as well as links to stories I write (because journalists love self-promotion.). Helpful tip: use a professional headshot as your Twitter profile picture/icon. An iPhone picture is never as good of a quality as a good camera like a DSLR or something. (I don’t know much about cameras, forgive me.)

  • A Blog

Like WordPress, etc, having and maintaining a blog is the perfect way to interact with your audience, as well as a way for you to keep writing when you’re not on assignment or you can write about a passion, something you don’t write about as a journalist.

  • External hard drive

Okay, this one is more for photography and videography. But, a good journalist can do it all. And having an external hard drive has the perfect amount of storage to hold it all. This one linked above is what I have. It’s very thin, which is perfect for carrying it around.

  • USB drives

This one seems like a no brainer for journalists. We need to BACK UP OUR WORK. I know that no one wants to hear it, but, computers have glitches, and when you’re on deadline, you’re going to wish you had another way to access your story.

  • Headphones or ear buds

Again, this is mostly for getting sound bites. Good journalists need to be able to do it all, so if you can write a story, conduct interviews, film a quick video or sound clip; you’re golden. It’s such a competitive market that we need to be able to do it all to compete with all the other prospective hires out there.

  • Moleskine or notebook (one that can fit in a purse is best!) & pen/pencil

Obviously, a journalism needs to take notes, DUH. A Moleskine is perfect because it’s small enough to always have with you. Perfect for when you see a quick story, get a quick quote or jot down a story idea. Definitely invest in one. You can easily find them at Barnes & Noble or Target.

  • Digital recorder

This is helpful for interviews when transcribing quotes. If you are serious about becoming a journalist, definitely invest in a recorder. It’ll help when you’re on deadline late at night and can’t remember the exact phrasing of a quote. Don’t forget to always ask your subject for permission to tape the interview beforehand! (You don’t want to anger anyone!)

  • Youtube account

Again, this is more for filming. But, it’s good to have one to quickly upload videos, and you can edit it easily on Youtube.

  • SD card & camera

Cameras are helpful when you are writing a quick story and need to get a photo to accompany it. Because you never know if a staff photographer will be covering the event you’re writing about. Again, as journalists, we have to be editors, writers, filmmakers, photographers, etc: we must do it all.

If this list hasn’t scared you off, then go forth and start writing and look for stories!

Courtesy of tumblr.com

Advice for college freshmen I wish had someone told me

I’m sorry it’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been busy at my internships (I’ve been doing work for three companies) and I’ve had a severe case of writers block. But, I’m back!

For today’s blog, I thought I’d focus on college life, since I’ll be headed back to school in a few weeks.

1. Find a floor plan of your dorm before you move in. Most college websites will have a page on dorms, and often it will include a floor plan. Use that to find out how much space you’ll have, closet size, and whether your floor will be coed or not (which will dictate the type of bathroom you’ll have.)

2. Budget your money. Whether we are talking about your meal plan or your actual cash funds, it’s crucial to keep in mind how much your are actually spending. I know one girl who went crazy with online shopping that her mom freaked—that’s something you should keep a handle on. It’s easy to shop online, especially when you’re not at home, however, all those bills add up… and don’t forget about shipping costs too! For me, I’ll shop if there’s a really good sale and if there’s some piece I have to have. And keep in mind, free shipping and free returns deals websites will have.

3. Keep in mind the size of your space. Do not bring your entire wardrobe. It’s a waste of space and you won’t end up wearing at least half of the things you brought. I know for me, I overpacked on shoes. I basically brought every pair of boots, heels and wedges, sandals and flats I owned. And it took up way more space than I care to admit, not to mention I didn’t have the time and place to wear them all.

4. Check the prices of textbooks before purchasing. Textbooks are so expensive… it’s not worth buying them new for every class (it adds up!). You probably will never need it ever again after class or you may only need it for one week, so it’s better to rent them. Check your bookstore’s rental policy or sites like Chegg and Amazon. (However, with those, make sure you order them in advance so they won’t be backordered.)

5. Don’t arrive to college thinking you only can do one thing. While you shouldn’t be overly involved in every activity under the sun, it’s still nice to be involved in several things, and you’ll make more friends. I know people who never did anything except scrape by in their classes and party Thursday-Sunday. And when you’re trying to get a job, going to frat parties won’t look good on your resume. So, join in! There’s so much to do—take advantage of it. Another thing, many people believe Greek life is the pinnacle of college life, and if you join then that’s the only thing you can do. FALSE. There are many types of organizations to join; Greek life is not an all or nothing activity. I’m in a service sorority. We are a Greek sorority, but we have a much greater emphasis on service–which seems better than just going out and partying nonstop, and bonus–it’ll look good on a resume!

6. Don’t focus on Rate My Professor too much. While it’s helpful for a general consensus about a teacher, don’t overanalyze. Focus on the class, not the teacher or the time preference. Because if it’s a class you enjoy then a teacher’s review or the time it’s offered won’t matter.

7. What to bring: Mattress topper, power strip, first aid kit, tool kit, plunger, bathroom cleaning supplies (if you have own bathroom), pictures to hang up of your friends and family, vacuum (if there’s a carpet), shoes to wear in the shower, Command hooks. Keep in mind how much space you have before buying an area rug or a sofa—make sure it’s something that will fit.

Those are some of my tips. Have a great time as a new freshman at your college!