Hola What’s Hot Fam,
If you’ve been wondering whether or not to pursue a degree in journalism, you’ve arrived at the right blog! While the decision to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in journalism is one I’ve not come to necessarily regret, there are a few things I wish I would have known or really internalized along the way. Let me share them with you!
Never underestimate the power of research
Switching majors, dropping minors, internships, entry-level job requirements– research it all before making a move. With any decision you make, do not underestimate the power of a search engine or talking with others. Even when you think you have it figured out, research! When making life choices, it is easy to let emotion take over without even realizing it. No matter how small the decision may seem, don’t move impulsively! It may be the very thing you regret most post-college.
This advice remains true and should prelude any of the other suggestions made below.
Consider an accompanying relevant or lucrative minor or degree
While journalism is definitely a craft that deserves to be studied in itself, sometimes it may feel that it does not stand on its own. It’s important to be prepared for a niche outside of the general news coverage you’re taught in your journalism courses.
With that being said, indulge your other interests. Consider a double major or, at minimum, a minor that will complement your degree. For example, if you’re into politics or societal matters, consider studying political science or sociology, as well. This is where that research mentioned before comes in handy. Even if you think you just want to do entertainment or general news coverage it never hurts to have a backup plan!
Also, get some experience working with cameras, editing videos, taking photos, social media, and graphic design! Journalists these days often wear multiple hats – even though they may not get paid like it.
Write for a paper or magazine consistently- even if you want to do broadcast!
Find a freelance gig or organization that lets you write for them on at least a weekly basis! You won’t regret it. This is something I really underestimated in college.
I chose to work for the video department of my University’s newspaper instead of the editorial team. I did this for two reasons. One, I was anxious to get in front of a camera. Two, I thought it would count as “broadcast” experience when I applied for jobs. However, when it came to working at an actual newspaper or news station, that experience wasn’t valued much. On the other hand, some of my former colleagues, who simply wrote for the paper on a daily basis, have broken into the industry and are currently working as multimedia journalists.
While my experience as a video producer has definitely proved useful in other situations, consistent serious (aka hard/local news coverage) writing seems to carry more weight in newsrooms.
Your internship doesn’t necessarily equal a job
Don’t get comfortable just because you’ve had an internship–or two! This is especially true if the internship didn’t last 1-2 years.
The industry is competitive and the economic climate is even more unstable than before given the coronavirus pandemic. For these reasons and others, there are always hundreds of people often looking for the same career opportunities you are.
Furthermore, a lot of companies are looking for inexpensive/free labor and may very well have no intention or ability to help you beyond your internship position. With that being said, always strive to get as much experience as you can because nothing is guaranteed. Lastly, don’t remain in any position that isn’t serving you!
You’ll probably have to relocate depending on your goals
Depending on where you live and your goals, it’s very likely you’ll feel tempted to move to a small town— or a big one— to get a real start in your career. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities in Maryland, but I’ve considered (and am still considering) moving anywhere from Lancaster, PA to Los Angeles, CA for certain gigs or in hopes of obtaining better opportunities.
Learn more about the news market in your city to get a gist of just how competitive things are. Furthermore, pay attention to what entry-level job listings from different locations are seeking candidates. The smaller the market the easier it may be for you to get an opportunity at that local newspaper or news station. Of course, this is just for those hoping to cover the hard news beat; as other niches may prove easier or more difficult to break into based on your location.
To Sum It Up
In conclusion, I’d say a journalism degree is for those with drive and a willingness to struggle before they succeed. Also, it’s great for someone who is willing to be a jack of many trades and can find purpose through the work. What do you hope to achieve by obtaining your degree in journalism? Comment below!