Help Wanted: From graduation to gainful employment


From freelance to fact-checking intern by ahoffstrom
Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

Last Friday, I received some great news: one of my former editors at MSP Communications had gained approval to hire a paid full-time, fact-checking intern and if interested, the position could be mine.

I was elated! Finally, an opening in journalism had come my way after months of hiring rejections, unemployment statistics and self-evaluations. There was no way I could turn it down.

The position, which starts Aug. 17, will take me back to downtown Minneapolis. I don’t think I could be happier about it, especially after looking back at a post from early July and finding I wrote about wanting to work at MSP again:

“Now that I’m out of school and unemployed, I greatly hope that one day I will return to MSP or a company similar to it. I’ve offered to do freelance assignments for MSP in the hope that volunteering will leave a good impression of my work ethic and perhaps help me land a more permanent position there should one become available.”

It took work to get back on the company’s radar, namely 15+ freelance fact-checking assignments on a very quick deadline. But my dedication paid off and in less than a week, I’ll be back at a communications company I love. I will not be writing much at the beginning, but there may be room for growth after some time.

Though I am a little bit nervous to start the new job, I feel much more at ease knowing that I’ve worked there before in a similar role. I know the people, I know the atmosphere and I know the publications. I also know that I can be successful.

Before I started my internship at MSP last summer, I had no idea what it meant to be a fact-checker. But anytime I found an inaccurate fact prior to publication, I learned just how important the process is to the reputation of the company.

Because this is a somewhat unconventional internship (it is not on schedule with MSP’s other editorial interns), I’m not sure how long it will be. I was not told it had an end date. My hope is that getting my foot in the door for the second time will give me an edge up on a more permanent position in the future.

For now, this internship is really the best thing I can ask for—working with people I enjoy at a company I respect.

Unfortunately, I will not earn enough money from the internship to fully support myself, so I will have to live at home with my parents and take the bus downtown. I have a more positive outlook on moving home, however, because I’ll be busy during the day and I can save most of the money I make.

If you are still looking for a job, I feel your pain. What I’ve learned from seeking a post-grad job is to never underestimate the value of your own work ethic. You are the only person that can sell yourself. Set goals, volunteer to take additional assignments if you have an internship, freelance if you can for former employers and network with everyone you know.

And who knows, I may be on the job hunt again soon. But, I’m staying optimistic.

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Forbes: Best places to begin a career by ahoffstrom
August 4, 2009, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

This weekend, my parents are coming to Madison, Wis., to help me move out of my college apartment. Each time I put a book, magazine or article of clothing in a box, I can’t help wondering if my parents’ house in a Twin Cities suburb is really the next place I’ll see it again.

Am I really moving back home? Is my newfound independence really coming to an end?

According to Forbes, it may be better for me to stay in Madison—the city ranked second among cities with fewer than one million people in a list of best cities for recent grads and first-time job seekers.

The magazine, which released the list in mid-July, examined cost-of-living data, the quality of jobs in each city and alumni data from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern, Duke and Rice universities to compile its ranking.

While I grew to love Madison as a student, I’m not convinced it’s one of the best cities to start a career. Well, not a career in journalism at least. The University of Wisconsin creates bioscience and medical opportunities, which I suppose creates public relations positions, but I think it lacks in journalism jobs.

To my delight, Minneapolis, a.k.a. the largest city near my parents’ home, ranked ninth among metropolitan areas for the best place to start a career. There are companies that I want to work for in the city, so I’m hopeful a move to Plymouth, Minn., will soon translate to a move downtown.

One of my friends is moving to New York (No. 7 among metro areas) at the beginning of September, and several of my friends recently moved to Chicago (No. 12 among metro areas). The last I checked, these friends were planning to move without a job secured. They were just hoping to find something once they relocate.

Hearing their plans makes me wonder about my own. Should I take an equal risk and move somewhere new? Is it best to save money in a place that’s comfortable, or take a chance on a life-changing experience?

Looking to move? Forbes suggests these places:

Metropolitan areas (population greater than one million)

  1. San Jose, Calif.
  2. Cambridge, Mass.
  3. Houston, Texas
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. Boston, Mass.
  7. New York
  8. Philadelphia, Pa.
  9. Minneapolis, Minn.
  10. Dallas, Texas
  11. Seattle, Wash.
  12. Chicago, Ill.
  13. Nashville, Tenn.
  14. Orange County, Calif.
  15. St. Louis, Mo.
  16. Charlotte, N.C.
  17. Baltimore, Md.
  18. Denver, Colo.
  19. San Diego, Calif.
  20. Milwaukee, Wis.

Cities with fewer than one million:

  1. Bridgeport, Conn.
  2. Madison, Wis.
  3. Greensboro, N.C.
  4. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  5. Raleigh, N.C.

Cities with fewer than 500,000:

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. Boulder, Colo.
  3. Santa Barbara, Calif.
  4. Burlington, N.C.
  5. Iowa City, Iowa


To write or not to write by Adam Clair
August 3, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Blog | Tags: ,
Adam Clair

Adam Clair

Still without the job I’m looking for (albeit, as I often remind myself, gainfully employed), I am persistently and increasingly fraught with post-graduate anxieties, myriad in number. What other skills do I have? Should I go to grad school? Will anyone offer me advice on a level beyond “You have to network”? Why didn’t I major in finance?

One of the more salient questions that keeps popping up is “Should I keep writing, plying my craft for free?”

It’s a blatantly binary decision — either I do or I don’t — but both sides seem to make sense.

On one hand, it seems dumb to offer for free what I’m hoping someone will want to pay me for at some point. This is, after all, the same line of thinking that got the newspaper business in trouble in the first place. If they can have the milk for free, who would ever want to buy my cow?

Moreover, because I’m working a full-time job with a commute that’s a part-time job unto itself, I don’t have nearly the time to dedicate to such writing as I’d like. Thus, the product is diluted, and perhaps not an accurate reflection of my skill(s/z).

That said, writing is very much a skill, which means it needs to be practiced. The more I write, the better my writing becomes. The inverse is also true. So as this job search stretches on, if I’m not writing, I’m becoming progressively less marketable. On top of that, if I’m sending out writing samples to prospective employers, it won’t reflect well on me to be sending out year-old clips.

So what do I do? Continue to churn out the odd record review and attempt to keep current my own blog, or abstain from the craft until someone is willing to pay me?