Help Wanted: From graduation to gainful employment

Ethics in journalism job searching by jssutton
May 28, 2009, 9:37 pm
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John Sutton

John Sutton

Wednesday I went to Newark, N.J., for my second interview since graduation. This one was with The Star-Ledger, the biggest paper in New Jersey and a much more prestigious paper than The Nutley Sun, which I interviewed for about a week and a half ago.

The position with the Ledger would pay me much more, but it would be a one-year copy editing internship that would require me to work from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on most days. Even with these two down sides to the job it is definitely something I would have a hard time passing up if the opportunity presents itself.

Now, it is just a waiting game as I still have not heard back from The Nutley Sun regarding the position there. It is also a time where I need to balance my options and try to figure out exactly what I can say to these potential employers if the best case scenario comes true and I am offered both positions.

I talked to my dad about this situation last weekend, and while it might seem like a long shot that I will be offered both positions, I need to be prepared to accept the first one to come my way. It is likely that The Nutley Sun will be the first to offer and that would be the position I would have to accept.

If the internship at the Ledger does come my way, it would seem that I would have to then back out of the job in Nutley and move on to the Ledger. To me, this just does not seem like the ethical thing to do especially since I would have to give my word to the people in Nutley and then quickly turn around and go back on that.

I guess it just means that in business, I have to look out for my own interests before anyone else. It is a tough thing to do just because it is not in my nature, but business matters cannot become personal if I want to eventually succeed.

For now this situation is still very much a hypothetical, but it could become a reality very soon. It would be the best possible situation but there is still work to do in the meantime. The job search continues even while there still might be prospects and an end in sight.


Hire a new grad by ahoffstrom
May 22, 2009, 12:56 pm
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Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

I forced myself to take a mental break from the job search the past week to focus on finishing my undergraduate career strong. Now that my classes, finals and commencement have ended, however, I need to take some time to reflect before I return to life goal No. 1: finding my first job.

Lately, I can’t stop watching “Gilmore Girls,” a seven-season WB/CW series. I think it’s because In some ways I see myself living the life of Rory Gilmore, a wannabe journalist, and one of the show’s main characters. With Christiane Amanpour as her inspiration, Rory talks of becoming an international reporter. Though she majors in English, Rory becomes editor of the Yale Daily News, gets an unpaid internship and watches as her dreams of working at a major daily newspaper crumble. Of course the show couldn’t end without Rory getting an amazing job – she is hired by an online magazine to be a reporter on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Rory Gilmore is a fictional character, but she experiences so much of what I’ve gone through as a wannabe reporter that I can’t help but watch the show over and over again. I was an editor at my college newspaper, The Daily Cardinal, had an internship (though mine was a paid one at a magazine publishing company) and have watched the shift from print to online potentially ruin my dreams of working for a major daily newspaper. While I am not expecting to magically get a job as Rory did in the show, I am still reporting, writing and blogging in the hopes that I will stand out to one company as a creative, critical-thinking, eager Gen Y journalist.

Generation Y, the group of individuals born between 1980 and 2000 and also known as Millennials, often is seen as lazy, ungrateful and entitled among older co-workers. In my opinion, these stereotypes are completely wrong. In the changing field of journalism, employers would be at a loss if they didn’t hire young workers. To illustrate my point, I present four reasons to hire a journalist from the next generation:

‘Geyser of energy’: According to an Experience, Inc. study, 18- to 30-year-olds “are characterized by the desire to receive training, take on new challenges [and] expand their capabilities.” Each week I’m learning multimedia skills that will complement my writing skills while some of the owners, hiring managers and editors at media companies around the country are trying to reconstruct their business models. What they need are Gen Y employees—lots of them and soon. Gen Y individuals are “a geyser of energy, creativity, and leadership potential,” according to Tamara Erickson, author of Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work.

Productivity: Personal laptops and other digital tools (cameras, flip cams, voice recorders, etc.) are changing the way traditional journalists live and work. We are no longer tied to a desk with a computer and phone. Gen Y workers know how to use their technology skills to create packages—reporting packages, sales packages, event packages. According to the Experience, Inc. study, “the office will no longer be the hub it once was. Working remotely will become standard, leveraging technology and virtual relationships. Gen Y is at the core of this trend because for them, meeting and interacting online is just as comfortable and ‘real’ as face-to-face meetings.”

Long, healthy careers: Instead of complaining about the lack of knowledge of Gen Y employees, co-workers should pass on their expertise. Some of my best experiences as a student journalist have been listening to stories of my professors. If those in the Gen X or Boomer generations think younger workers need to improve, they should work to encourage that improvement. They should want to do it at the beginning of our careers because according to Erickson, most Gen Y workers will have “60 to 80 years of healthy, active adult life—time to build multiple careers, work in corporations, try something entrepreneurial, return to school, invest in [their] family, and give back to making the world a better place.”

Social media savvy: Gen Y is working to stand out with their social media skills. Jamie Varon is one such example. She launched to attract the attention of Twitter hiring managers. Varon’s story is amazing because she used the Internet to network herself in a unique way, and even though she was not hired by Twitter, she was hired elsewhere and even launched her own digital media company. Having employees with social media skills should be seen as an asset to companies. If you can hire someone with great writing skills, who can elicit a following online, you can attract a wider audience for a number of causes. These people are going to be from Gen Y.

Getting some scary advice by jssutton
May 21, 2009, 7:31 pm
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John Sutton

John Sutton

The process of networking for a job brings you in contact with a lot of different types of people in the journalism business. People from different ages, genders, positions, papers and locations. They all have similar and somewhat predictable messages of advice when first contacted in a networking arena.

“Stay proactive.”

“Send unsolicited resumes out to papers.”

“Keep calling and calling until you become annoying.”

All these are common and encouraging words of advice that someone just out of college is looking for in the employment search. I can work on those things.

But this year I have found that while those words might still come from contacts already in the business, some not-so-encouraging advice is also coming my way.

Since last summer, there have been people telling me that I should try and get out of the journalism world. They say there just isn’t enough money and finding a job is nearly an impossible task considering the direction newspapers have taken in recent times. I  have to admit I have wanted to listen sometimes to those people who tell me to get out, but I have too much of a passion for being a journalist than to quit now.

Even one of my primary contacts in the job search, Mariel Hart, a Web producer for The Record, in Bergen County in New Jersey, where I interned last summer, has been encouraging me try and find jobs in another industry. When I met her for an alumni gathering in Syracuse she talked about how proud she was of another student for finding a job in public relations.

She told me to not lose three years of my professional life to journalism – something I might be passionate about – only to leave. But honestly, PR has no pull for me. I would not be happy there, it just isn’t for me.

While I still might have the desire to keep pushing on with the search if those in the business are already losing a passion for it, it only worries me to think what might happen to me five or six years down the road.

For now, I have to just keep on hitting that networking button until something positive comes from it. I still am waiting to hear back from The Nutley Sun regarding my interview last week, but for the time being, I need to assume I still do not have a job.

Go back to school? by ayhosier
May 21, 2009, 7:21 pm
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Alexis Hosier

Alexis Hosier

I still haven’t found a job yet or even gotten an interview. It was really hard celebrating my graduation party with all of my family and friends and having to answer the big question, “What are you doing now?”

I have recently been throwing around the idea of going back to school, taking an LSAT prep course and applying to Law school for Fall 2010. Law school has always been something I have thought about doing, but I put TV first. TV jobs just aren’t there it seems. My biggest mistake my senior year was that I didn’t take the GRE or LSAT, because I was set on getting a job in TV. I didn’t look any further than that or have a plan past getting a job in TV.

I am not doing any stories as of now because I have no equipment. In TV the longer you are out of the game, the less likely you are to get a job because you need practice and experience. Hopefully something comes along soon, just how soon?

Balancing friends and the job search by jssutton
May 21, 2009, 7:17 pm
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John Sutton

John Sutton

Now that I am back up in Syracuse for a week to use some of the resources up here for the job search I have the luxury of having some of my friends still around for the time being. While it might be great entertainment while things might be slow, it is tough for them to understand that I have work to do even though I don’t have a job or classes.

It is almost the same as convincing my parents that I am keeping busy while not getting paid, but my parents don’t want to go out to the bars with me.

Being back in Syracuse after a week at home makes me feel like things are actually getting back to normal. People are walking around campus, I can go back to the places I always got food and even Shaq is around campus today.

I am still waiting to hear back from the paper I interviewed with Friday, but for the time being it is back to using the Career Development Center here in Syracuse while working for two hours a day with my friend, who is paying me to clean out his office at the Catholic Center at SU.

In fact, right now, he is bugging me that we need to go to the gym at some point tonight, but there is still much that I wanted to get accomplished today that I haven’t done yet. The to-do list that I started the day with only has two of the five items checked off, and once this entry is done that will make three.

I wanted to start the 9 to 5 workday while being up here so I had my nights free to be a kid for a little longer, but it looks like it’s back to the late nights of being a student for the time being. Just have to avoid the temptation to blow things off for fun just like I did at times in my college career … can’t believe that is in the past now.

My first job interview by jssutton
May 17, 2009, 12:03 am
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John Sutton

John Sutton

Friday I went to my first job interview for the sports editor position with the Nutley Sun, a weekly paper out of Nutley, N.J., about an hour away from my home. I just got the call about the job on Wednesday, giving me only two days to get prepared for the interview.

No easy task.

It was nice to finally get the opportunity of an interview less than a week after graduation from Syracuse University even if it doesn’t result in a job. The experience itself will help me to become a better interviewee in the future.

The job itself is not exactly what I envisioned I would be doing after graduation when I entered the Newhouse School in Syracuse. I would not be making much money and I would be covering local sports in northern New Jersey for the most part, but in this economy and considering the way the newspaper business is headed, any job is a good job.

I have to admit I was extremely nervous heading into the interview. I had never had an official interview like this before, and I honestly did not know what to expect.

I wanted to dress my best  so I went into the office with a suit and tie. Needless to say, I was dressed much nicer than anyone else – a bit of an awkward feeling – but nothing that could have hurt my chances at the job.

I had to wait a bit for my interviewer to come out of his office, and I was continually distracted by a fly buzzing around my head for most of the interview, but overall, I felt I was able to keep my composure and get through in one piece.

I honestly feel that this job might be a chance for me to thrive. The paper’s Web site desperately needs some life. I would like to bring some of those web skills that were so valuable at Syracuse and apply them to this job if I get the position.

I also have to cherish this opportunity because during these times, who knows when the next interview will come along. It could be months before I have another chance to do what I did on Friday, and because of that, I felt the pressure to make every chance that I get count.

Now I have to wait one to two weeks to find out whether or not the sports editor position at The Nutley Sun is the place where I will begin my career. That is certainly a nervous feeling, but who knows when that feeling will come along again.

Who’s hiring? by Adam Clair
May 15, 2009, 6:49 pm
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Adam Clair

Adam Clair

With the economy the way it is, there are a lot of places that are cutting their staffs or, at best, have instituted hiring freezes for a little while. Believe it or not, though, there are still some places — even some media outlets — that are adding employees. You just have to find them.

The easiest way to do this is with the bevy of job sites at your disposal on the Internet.

Of course, there are the big ones like Monster and Career Builder, but because they’re so sprawling, it can often be hard to narrow things down to what you’re actually looking for.

Then there’s Craig’s List, which has a lot of decent stuff, too. Unfortunately, the site is a little clunkier, the jobs tend to be a little less appealing, and as a whole there’s a greater chance for getting scammed.

For people like myself who are looking to make a mark in the media field, there are a few job sites targeted at us specifically. usually has some solid listings, and there are good new postings every day at Media Bistro, even if it includes more than just journalism stuff (included the dreaded public relations).The problem with these sites, naturally, is that there isn’t always a whole lot to choose from, and you’re competing against thousands of other desperate journalists.

As such, I’ve taken to exploring job sites for other industries. Namely, Idealist is a great resource for not-for-profit work, and has a lot to offer by way of government employment.

Last, never underestimate the power of cold calling/e-mailing someone at an unlisted place. If there’s a newspaper/magazine/Web site/whatever you really want to write for, try to find its human resources rep (or anyone, really) and see if they’re looking to expand in any area, and if they’re not, don’t be afraid to propose they do (tactfully, of course). You’ll hear a lot more negative responses before you get a positive one, but it never hurts to ask.