“You’ve your masters now, you’re sorted!”
Am I? Am I really? I seem to recall my decision to enter into a career path that requires a hell of a lot of graft, a long neck and creativity coming out your ears, along with the ambition and drive to get yourself out there. Oh and the ability to string a good sentence together comes in handy too.
Let’s take a look at where it all started; my second year of college. I was studying English and French and the only sights I had my eyes set on was Erasmus; a year away in France surrounded by good weather and good friends. One night after a *cough* long day of lectures and hard study, I came home, flopped on the couch and just like Kylie Jenner’s new year’s resolution, I realised. I realised I had no idea what I was going to do once I finished. College is great now but what happens after? I was pulled back in time to filling out my CAO form asking myself what do I want to be when I grow up?
“Do what you love”, isn’t that what everyone says? So I thought about what I love; magazines, fashion, beauty, television, music, basically the ‘hobbies and interests’ section on my CV, and while I was there having a little chat with myself and making lists (I love lists) I had a Eureka moment! Television… magazines… Journalism! The idea of being a journalist is probably a lot more attractive than actually being one but I was sold. Glitzy, fab life come at me!
Fast forward 3 years and I have perused my new dream with an MA in Journalism and Media Communications in the bag. However, since handing over my precious thesis I have now stepped out of my fluffy filled bubble and into the real working world and this world is tough. Don’t get me wrong I knew it was going to be hard but lately I want to send emails with one line: “GIVE ME A JOB!”
Right now I am finishing off an internship at UCC98.3fm, a radio station that has given me huge opportunities and invaluable experience except that experience is only 6 months, nowhere near the 2 years experience that every media job out there seems to require. What?! But like, what?! How do you get the experience?! Do I keep going with my unpaid internship? How do I live? HELP ME!
So what to do? I have qualifications. I have experience. I have ambition. I guess all that can be done is email EVERYONE.
However, I have two issues with emails:
- They’re impersonal. How can a possible future employer see how much of a hard-working/ lovely/ funny person you are? It’s so hard to convey these things and it’s a pain trying to decide what to write. If I go with the funny/ witty email does that make me unprofessional, but then if I go the professional route does that make me less creative? It’s a tough one to call!
- Waiting for a reply that may never come. Just give me some sort of recognition! Even a message with simply “No”, will suffice, anything at all.
So here I am cup of tea in hand, figuring out how to get my well worn, beloved, tan suede boots on the bottom rung of the journalism ladder.
I asked a few people who managed to do just this and see if they could pass on any magical words of advice.
Some magical words of advice:
Editor, Irish Tatler Man
Never stop improving and refining your writing style. Read constantly and pick up phrases and sentence structures that you like and that read well.
When pitching articles, avoid sending what are blatantly generic emails that will have obviously been sent to various editors. Address the recipient personally and refer by name to their publication. Refer to a recent article in their magazine/newspaper that you enjoyed and explain why it impressed you. This way, they will know that you are genuinely interested in contributing to their title.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. It’s a cliché, admittedly, but be persistent: keep sending in pitches and ideas and, hopefully, eventually an editor will ‘bite’.
Jill O’ Sullivan
Editor at Landmark Digital, breakingnews.ie
I started with a work placement from college and gained opportunities from there.
It probably goes without saying that if your college can organise any work placements for you (even post-graduation), you should grab that chance with both hands. Even a short placement of six weeks will give you valuable experience.
Video is THE industry trend at the moment, mainly because it’s the only type of content generating decent advertising revenue. So, it will be to your advantage if you can create compelling video content.
Get published everywhere you can – we really do read the story links quoted in CVs
Radio Broadcaster with 2fm
Do whatever shifts they ask you to do at the start, whether it’s weekends, early mornings or night shifts, don’t say no. It won’t go unnoticed.
Add more strings to your bow, by learning EVERYTHING, from equipment, to software, a play out system, you name it.
Be nice to people. Simple as. The media world is a small one, you are bound to bump into people that you have come across again and again. Let you be remembered for good things, not bad.
Get back up and keep going after knocks. Shake it off, put your head down, and continue.
Journalism’s a really great career and it still gives me a thrill to see my own words printed on the page. If somebody is considering journalism, I’d recommend devouring all the media out there. Just read, read and then read some more. It’s crucial to develop your own voice too.
Marian Finucane, who gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever received (at least as far as career is concerned). She told me that, in order to be a good journalist, I’d have to have something to write about – and she recommended doing an Arts degree as a way of getting some good learnin’ under my belt.
Rosemary also explains the importance of interns talking to EVERYONE in the office.
While I was at the Times, I tried to make friends with everyone. This wasn’t a hugely cynical ploy – I’m a pretty friendly person anyway – but since then, I’ve been astonished by the number of interns I’ve seen coming in and out of publications without so much as introducing themselves to their superiors. I said hi in the lunch queue; I went out of my way to chat to people whose writing interested me, or whose position I’d like to be in.
*Taken with permission from rosemarymccabe.com*