Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Writing Reality Part II

post by Jonathan Young
Jonathan Young ~ editor extraordinaire

{{If you didn't catch the first half of this sage advice by editor Jonathan Young, click HERE. And if you did, then sit back and enjoy the rest . . . }}

Don't just major in English or creative writing. I have nothing against either major — except they're both fantastic paths to unemployment. If you're going for one of those majors, consider a double major or, at minimum, pick a program that allows you to have an emphasis in journalism or something practical. It might be better to major in journalism or professional writing or something that focuses on practical writing skills.

Practical is the key word ... which brings me to my next point: Get practical, experience and assemble a portfolio. Also known as "clips," a portfolio of published work will go a long way toward helping you get a job. Start with small, easy things, whether book reviews, devotionals or whatever. Get some work published, even if you don't get paid. The school newspaper counts, and oftentimes local newspapers will accept free stories as "contributed articles" if you do a decent job. It's a good idea to check with the editor and ask if he or she accepts community stories for free and if a particular idea you have might be of interest.

Get an internship if you can — or two or three internships. Even if you're not going into journalism, working on a paper is a great way to get practice writing and develop your portfolio. Internships are invaluable learning experiences and also look really good on a resume. If I'm going to hire someone (and I've had to do it), I want them to be able to demonstrate they can do the work (have done some of it), that they really want to do the work and that they're willing to learn in areas where they're not as strong.

Finally, diversify your skills. In journalism, for example, you're likely going to have to do more than just write nowadays. A lot of the journalism jobs out there are at small papers. At my paper, it's me, one general reporter and a sports reporter who put out the whole paper each week. We write stories, take our own photos, layout the paper, manage the website and Facebook page and more. So it's good to take classes in photography, desktop publishing/design, online communication skills etc. The more different things you can do, the better. I'm sure that's the case in other communications fields today as well.

Good luck.


chappydebbie said...

An Internship is great advice.....hands on experience can't be beat.

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