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.


Passion vs. paycheck by ahoffstrom
June 8, 2009, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

Being unemployed with three months remaining on my apartment lease in Madison made it difficult to justify spending the summer anywhere else. So, I’m back at my college apartment, reminded daily that I am no longer a student and I need to find a job.

My personal job-search consultant, i.e. my dad, fills my e-mail inbox with job postings nearly everyday. He’s in human resourcing for a living, so finding jobs for people is his natural calling. Some of the openings he sent me include marketing positions, assistant editor positions, and federal government and higher education positions.

In speaking to some of my recently graduated friends who are also unemployed, we all seem to have a similar dilemma: Is it best to apply to everything and anything we see or is it okay to be somewhat selective?

Though the postings I’ve seen are related to my degree, some of my friends have talked about taking unrelated interim positions to bring in a paycheck. Is it seen as desperate to take a “right now” position while we look for something more permanent in our chosen fields?

My parents would say it is best to apply to everything I see regardless of whether or not it’s what I really want to do, where I want to live, or if I fill all of the requirements listed on the position’s description. Apply, apply, apply they say. I’m not sure. I want to be passionate about what I’m doing.

I will keep looking at the openings my dad sends me and apply to the ones I can see myself fitting into. I have applied to a couple positions that I hope will result in interviews, one that my dad did actually alert me to, so I will write about any updates should I hear back from them.

In the meantime, I am working on some summer reporting projects that will keep my learned skills fresh. I’m not getting paid to write, but I was never paid for the majority of my articles in college and I still found the experience incredibly rewarding. I expect the articles I write this summer will give me the same feeling.

Getting some scary advice by jssutton
May 21, 2009, 7:31 pm
Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , ,
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.

Looking for one company to say yes by Michelle Starr
April 20, 2009, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , ,
Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

As a journalism major, I did not expect the job search to be seamless, but it has been more challenging than I originally expected. Someone once told me that looking for a job is a full-time job in itself, and they were right. It is especially difficult with full-time school, a part-time job and all the activities that come with the final months of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to send out perfect resumes and cover letters.

The economic downturn certainly hasn’t helped either. I have been discouraged by newspapers filing for bankruptcy or cutting staff positions, as well as magazines ceasing publication. I am mainly looking for a job at a newspaper, magazine or online publication as a writer, reporter or assistant editor. However, I am open for any position that encourages creativity, analytical thinking and strong communication skills.

The good news (if there can be good news in a bad economy) is that there are companies out there hiring new grads. I have seen openings online in both journalism and public relations on job boards and company Web sites. I have applied to positions at newspapers, magazines, news blogs, Web sites, public relations firms and book publishing houses. I have also widened my search to include three- to six-month internships because I still see myself as a student of the profession. I have used LinkedIn and other outlets to seek job prospects through neighbors, previous employers and professors as well.

Though my job search has not solicited the results I want yet, I am not giving up. I am sending out work samples as often as I can in the hopes that my experience will match what a hiring manager is looking for. As my dad says, it only takes one company to say yes.