Help Wanted: From graduation to gainful employment

Competing with a contact by jssutton
John Sutton

John Sutton

The new week also brings along two more chances to possibly land that elusive job. This Wednesday I will travel down to Philadelphia for a conference put on by, a Web site that primarily covers high school sports in Oklahoma but is looking to expand. I will also be going out to York, Pa., on Friday afternoon for an interview with The York Daily Record for a sports writer position there.

The most interesting part of the week comes on Friday, not just because of the established reputation of The York Daily Record and the much longer drive out there from my home in New Jersey, but also because of the fact that I will be competing with one of my networking contacts for this position.

The situation arose when I emailed a sports writer for The York Dispatch who is a Newhouse graduate just looking to network a bit and for a little help in the job search. He told me that he was going for an interview with The Daily Record on Friday afternoon and then I realized that I would be going in at the same time with the same paper.

He eluded to the fact that I might even be one of the “talented writers” that was competing with him for the position, but I doubt that he actually believed that it would be the truth. At first I did not know how to approach the situation. Should I tell him that I was in fact competing with him for the same position? Would that hurt my chances if I told him? If I didn’t tell him, would I ruin the possible contact because he might think that he can’t trust me?

All these questions and concerns ran through my mind before  I decided that I should just go ahead and tell him that I would be interviewing for the same position. He seemed like a nice guy and I thought it would make the situation far less awkward if I did run into him while in York. So I decided to tell him

Turns out there was no harm in just being honest with someone who could potentially help me land a job down the road. He acknowledged the fact that there were many good writers out there going for the position just because that is the nature of the industry right now.

It is obvious to me, and it must be to my contact, that he has a decided advantage when it comes to be chosen for this position. He knows the coverage area for the paper, he has covered these high school teams before, and he has more experience in the industry than I do, but I figure an interview can’t possibly hurt.

I will make the trip over there at the end of the week, and hopefully everything goes well. Who knows, I might even come out there with a job – stranger things have happened.

Also, if there are any loyal followers of the blog, a few updates. I did not get the sports editor position with The Nutley Sun, and am still waiting to hear back from The Star-Ledger regarding a one-year copy editing internship with them. I will write an entry letting you know how the conference with goes on Wednesday.


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.

Moving back home with mom and dad by jssutton
May 14, 2009, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , ,
John Sutton

John Sutton

A very odd feeling came over me while I was sitting in the Carrier Dome during the 155th Commencement ceremonies on Sunday. Vice President Joe Biden was delivering a speech to my graduating class and I had an eerie thought.

I simply thought to myself, “What am I going to do tomorrow?” The question was not unfamiliar, but the answer was different than it had ever been before.

I had no homework to do. There were no more classes to worry about the next day, and most importantly no job to start after graduation.

Just finding a daily routine would be a challenge from here on out until that elusive job finally comes along. Little accomplishments and to-do lists will replace classes and writing papers.

I left Syracuse Tuesday to come home for my brother’s high school graduation. That also meant that I came home to my parents after living independently for the past four years.

It is no easy task for a 21-year-old to adjust to living back home after living alone and making your own rules. The fact that I do not have a job yet only adds to the difficulty of the adjustment.

My parents have not put a significant amount of pressure on me to get a job immediately after graduation, but they do want me to actively search for work. My dad worked from home Wednesday putting the pressure on me to be active throughout the day.

Networking just doesn’t seem like real work to most people, but sending out many e-mails is one of the most important job hunting strategies at this point. Finding a job must now become my full-time job even though it might not pay anything at the moment.

My parents have been very understanding for the most part. They know that being a young journalist in the current economy does not immediately produce a job. I can spend as much time at home as I need to until something comes along.

There is still that unspoken pressure to continually find something. Like my mom said before, I now have the same level of education as my parents do. Now the trick is to make some money just like they do.

Getting your name – and your work – out there by ayhosier
Alexis Hosier

Alexis Hosier

I am still looking for that foot in the door opportunity, however, in the meantime I am shaking hands and meeting new people. People in the business are willing to help. I can’t thank people enough for their advice on signing contracts, applying for jobs and anything else that is helpful to getting a job in Sports Broadcasting.

It is extremely important to get your name, face and personality out there and see what happens. You never know who might like you enough to give you an interview. I am still looking for that job in sports, but I have been told that patience is the key.

I continue to use,, Twitter, Facebook and anything else to network. CareerScribe and LinkedIn are professional networks that allow people to see polished information about yourself. On CareerScribe I am able to post recent stories that I have done and send that out to potential employers. It is a constant timeline of new things I am working on. Also, on LinkedIn I am able to make connections with people and build a network. I use Twitter and Facebook to post any recent stories I have done with I am hoping that a lot of people see these stories and maybe someone will notice my work. Having a job by the time I graduate in two weeks doesn’t seem realistic, but I’d like to think that I’m ahead of the game.

Gaining advice to stand out by ahoffstrom
April 23, 2009, 7:01 pm
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Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

The beauty of looking for your first job is that everyone has advice to offer about the process. I have heard advice from my parents, my dentist, my professors, my neighbors, my friends and their parents. To put these wise words into context, I signed up for a journalism class that focuses on professional practices—what I like to call my job-search class. This class is definitely where I have heard the most practical advice about finding a first job.

My adviser said the most important thing in searching for your first job is to manage your expectations. This is something I’ve had to come to grips with as resumes go out and either I hear nothing or get rejection letters.

Other advice I’ve heard:

  • Define where you want to live and work
  • Network as much as possible with alumni, neighbors, teachers, previous employers—tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job
  • Update your resume often—it’s a living document
  • Start a blog
  • Look at newspaper ads and job placement Web sites (though the best jobs are almost never there), associations and company Web sites. Try cold calling as well
  • Make a plan to follow-up with potential employers
  • Send thank you notes after interviewing—it could be the difference between getting the job or not.

While I am taking this advice and using it to make myself stand out, I’m also taking into consideration advice I’ve heard in my classes too.

From my creative nonfiction professor I am learning how to write story pitches in order to freelance, which is not something I had really considered before this semester. With staff positions getting cut from newspapers and magazines, it does not seem like a bad path to explore. My professor says all you need is a good idea, a strong pitch that sells you as a writer, says specifically why you’re the perfect person for their publication and highlights previous publications for which you’ve written, as well as the correct name of the publication’s assignment editor, which changes a lot. She advised looking at a book called “The Writers Market” that lists information about literary publications throughout the country, who to send pitches to, what kind of writing they publish and whether or not they pay on acceptance or publication, among other things. Though this book may be outdated the moment it’s printed, I take comfort knowing there are so many publications out there publishing new talent.

I am in a digital media class that focuses on the shift from ethics in traditional print journalism and public relations to ethics of new media. In combination with my love of social networking, the course is allowing me to appreciate the Internet more as a strong journalistic medium. I think it also is making me a better reporter because I can see different ways to present information while maintaining the values of journalism. This class introduced me to Twitter, which I now update on a regular basis (follow me @takethelede). I now follow career experts with job-search tips, companies that post jobs and actual job boards. More on this in my next post.