July 22, 2016
Guides by Industry & Major
How to Become a Journalist
An exciting and fast-paced career, journalism is a great fit for recent grads who are interested in current events and passionate about storytelling. If you’re considering a career as a journalist, then you’re probably wondering how to get started. For example, is there anything you can do to hone your writing skills and get employers to notice you? Absolutely!
Here are the steps to take if you want to become a journalist.
Earn your bachelor’s degree
One of the keys to starting a career in journalism is earning your bachelor’s degree. Depending on the type of journalism you want to pursue (for example, investigative journalism or broadcast journalism), you should pick a major that will help you learn about that specific type of journalism while also giving you a sense of the broader journalistic landscape. Majors to consider include journalism, communications and English.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested in reporting on a particular subject, such as politics or technology, consider taking on a double major or a minor. This will help you develop specialist knowledge of your subject while also giving your the reporting skills you need to succeed in the field.
Develop your writing skills
In addition to getting your bachelor’s degree, it’s important to hone your writing skills by writing extensively across a broad range of subjects. There are two great ways to do this: 1) By starting a blog where you can develop your voice as a writer and 2) By pitching and writing articles on a freelance basis. This will help you build up your portfolio while also helping you grow your professional network.
Pro Tip: Creating a personal website is another good way to showcase your work and establish an online presence. This is quick and easy to set up with templates like those found in WordPress and Squarespace and will make you stand out from the crowd when it’s time to find a job.
Establish connections with reporters and editors
Networking is important in any field and it’s especially important in communications-focused fields like journalism that rely on strong professional networks. The best way to approach networking is by reaching out to reporters and editors you admire and asking them to set up a time to chat (either on the phone or in person). Once you connect with them, tell them a bit about your experience and professional goals and ask them for any advice that can help you get started.
Pro Tip: Always follow up after a meeting or phone call to let the person know that you appreciate their time and that you found value in the meeting. This is a great way to keep the relationship going and to develop a long-term connection.
Intern with a newspaper, magazine or media company
An important step in any journalism career, an internship will help you gain exposure to the field while also giving you a feel for what a the day-to-day life of a journalist looks like. As an intern, you’ll be fact-checking stories, collaborating on story ideas and and maybe even helping with the final editing before the piece gets published.
With new publications continuing to pop up on an almost daily basis, the field of journalism has many opportunities for recent grads. By following these steps, you’ll be sure to set yourself up for success as you begin your career as a journalist.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Use Social Media to Network Online and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?