Do You Even Write, Bro? How to Crush Your Student Journalist Career

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So you decided to major in journalism. You made the big decision and registered happily, but now you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, how am I going to make it in the real world once I graduate?” Though it may sometimes feel like we chose the wrong major (probably because our parents constantly tell us we did), college journalists have all the tools they need to become the best in their field. You shouldn’t waste your time worrying, but if you’re like me, you probably will anyway. Pro Tip: The earlier you start dominating this list, the better.

1. JOIN, JOIN, JOIN!

You know how your parents constantly nag you to get more involved in school? Well, much to our dismay, they’re right (like always). Try joining the school newspaper or radio station. Does your university run an online blog? Join it! If comedy excites you, see if your school has a satire newspaper. Who knows, you might be the next John Oliver or Stephen Colbert! Joining these clubs makes you a stronger writer and a stronger job candidate, because while other majors rely heavily on high GPAs and a heavy course load, employers in the journalism field look for candidates with experience.

2. Don’t Stick to One Thing

You took the basic reporting classes and covered a broad range of subjects, and you finally realized you want to be a sports writer. So what should you do? Throw yourself a party because you have it all figured out? Uh, no. Instead, continue to cover a wide range of events. You could have your heart set on writing opinion pieces , but you might realize  after dipping your toes into the arts section of the paper your heart lies there instead. Knowing how to write for a variety of beats not only helps you stand out, but also helps narrow down your options when figuring out what interests you most.

3. Be Versatile

You need different skills for various fields of journalism. Yes we know, it’s a drag that takes lots of time and effort, but being versatile gives you a huge boost when searching for a job. Whether you gravitate towards print, broadcast or photo, excelling in one field and becoming familiar with others helps enormously. Employers look for people who not only stand out in the field they’re applying for, but can also add something more to their company as a whole.

4. Make A portfolio and Create a Website

By now you might have all these great articles and amazing photos but nowhere to display them. When applying to jobs or internships, employers will ask to see samples of your work. Portfolios help you present your work in a cohesive and professional way. And what better place to organize your portfolio than on your own website? Sites like WordPress and Weebly make excellent basic websites, and the best part is, they’re FREE! Promote your website and keep it up to date, because you never know when future employers will be roaming around. And besides, who wouldn’t want to show off their best work to the rest of the world?

5. Keep Up with Social Media

Finally! A field where you can browse Twitter and Instagram without getting reprimanded by your boss. Maintaining active and professional social media accounts remains vital for journalists. Like when applying to college, make sure you take down those photos of any drunken nights or inappropriate behavior. Employers are like crazy couples that stalk their partners’ profiles to make sure they’re not cheating on them. You should also follow other journalists and news organizations to stay up to date with current events. And best of all, make sure to promote yourself as much as you can. Tweet about the events you cover, post pictures and go share that awesome story.

Antonia Jaramillo is a junior at Penn State University majoring in Digital and Print Journalism. She is originally from Colombia but has lived in the United States her whole life until her parents moved to Canada her freshman year of college. In her spare time she likes to watch soccer, play water polo and go scuba diving!

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