How to find a job/internship in media
“What advice would you give to communications students looking for their first internship or job in media?” — Me, to media friends on Facebook
“Tell them to change majors.” — Multiple responses
It will be graduation time before you know it. What’s next? Photo by Jennifer Lord Paluzzi
It’s a tough time to be a journalist. Newspaper pages and staff are shrinking, larger hyperlocal networks are shutting down, the economy is terrible, the sky is falling, kids these days by gosh with their Twitters and cell phones and text messaging are destroying life as we know it , GET OFF MY LAWN.
Enough of that. I have two classes full of wanna-be communications professionals, and they need jobs. So how are they going to get them?
I was planning to save this lesson for later in the semester but realized my students need to start planning now. The key to snagging a job is often getting in before that job is posted — back when I was a person who hired, I could count on getting 100 resumes the first day I posted a job on JournalismJobs.com. Why not beat the rush?
Let’s start with some basics on where to find listed jobs:
- MediaBistro.com —Job and internship listings in multiple media fields, can sort by state
- JournalismJobs.com — Multiple media fields, specific intern opportunities
- Craigslist.com — There are multiple scams here but legit companies do advertise
- LinkedIn.com — Multiple boards for job searches, every company is on it
Yes, you need a LinkedIn account. It’s the best way to not only showcase what you can do but also get background information about the various companies and the people who work for them. Do you have any connections who know someone who works there? LinkedIn can help you figure that out.
It also helps to follow the people who work for your target company on Twitter. Media people are gregarious by nature — if you respond to their posts, they may be likely to also respond to any questions you may have.
What else can you do?
My very first professional gig was a summer stringing for The Middlesex News, a publication that eventually turned into The MetroWest Daily News, my former longtime employer. What I found then remained true decades later when I edited CentralMassNews.com: May/June are crazy times for news editors, between high school playoff games, graduations and Town Meetings. An enterprising college student could get in touch with their local newspaper/hyperlocal website and offer to take some of that burden — believe me, the editor who is gnashing her teeth over the need to cover Algonquin Regional High School’s annual bid for the state lacrosse championship (Algonquin. Why is it always Algonquin?), an all-important budget hearing and an emergency court session over a farm-that’s-not-a-farm would leap at the chance to have another warm body in the mix. Do a good job and you may get assignments all summer long as full-time reporters take vacations. Suggest follow-up stories and profiles, show some proficiency with a camera and Tweet out links to all of your stories and you’ll end up with an enthusiastic reference — and possibly a job offer when the time comes.
Other suggestions from media friends:
“Here is how I got my first freelance editing jobs. I made a list of local publishing, marketing, writing, etc. companies and I dressed up and drove around to all of them. I schmoozed with the receptionist and smiled and dropped off my resume and a cover letter. And I got several calls. Yes, this was years ago, but gumption is still rewarded, I think.” — Wendy
“Writing is a talent and a gift that businesses crave and desperately need. So many employees cannot put together a complete sentence with punctuation. The reporter and editor gig is a tough one. Freelance is likely even tougher. With the spike in social media, there are many internal communications jobs that are very similar to “reporting.” They come with the stress of the board room instead of the newsroom. I took the PR road early in my career and this was a great path for me. Now, I write and develop customer stories and spend my work days interviewing Fortune 1,000 company decision-makers to understand their business strategy and how Lexmark has supported that vision. It’s not reporting, by any means, but it applies many of the same elements and fuels my love of writing.” — Jeanne
“Make sure you correctly identify and spell the name of the person to whom you are sending a resume. I still have my collection of letters to ‘Mr. Andy Weismann, Editor-in-Chief, Middlesex Daily News.'” — Andi Weismann (surprise, it’s a woman!)
“Project that you want the job, and why. Do your research. Know the name of the editor and corporate owner. Read what your next employer publishes. Don’t send a cover letter that says the paper is acknowledged as an ‘industry leader,’ be able to cite specific stories, what you liked or didn’t like.
“True story 1: Interviewed a candidate with daily experience who lived in Lowell. Said he didn’t read the paper because he had other things on his reading list.”True story 2: Recent college grad is asked why she applied. ‘Because I really want to work for you!’ Bingo.”One last suggestion. Never, ever bring your lunch leftovers to your interview.” — Tom Zuppa
“When they talk about social media, make sure they use the word ‘strategy.’ WHY use social media? (So many comm jobs/internships are to “help with social media” because you’re a kid so you must know how to do the Twitters, right?)” — Kerri
Advice I gave in class today:
- Does a friend have an Etsy shop? Create a website highlighting her skills using Word Press and set her up with a dedicated Twitter and Facebook page. You don’t need to be employed by a marketing firm to market on your own.
- Working a summer job at an ice cream stand? Do they have a social media presence? Suggest it. You could encourage customers to share photos on Instagram, highlight specials on Twitter, share their memories of family visits on Facebook.
- Create a Storify and bring in any social marketing you do over the summer. Add it to your portfolio.
- Don’t forget, the Boston Marathon runner stories (and the eventual coverage in April that serves as the class final) can serve as samples of your work… so make sure you’re working not just for the grade, but also for yourself.