College to Career: Journalism

Written by Samantha Burgess, managing editor

As your senior year looms closer, so does the reality of having to get a job in the real world. The idea of developing a life long career after college is intimidating.  

To help ease this fear, here is a list of tips from the editors of the Chattanooga Times Free Press on how you can transition from college to a career on journalism:

  1. The most important thing about transitioning is realizing responsibility lies on you alone.

Shakeem Holloway, a web producer for the Free Press, stressed this as the newsroom’s most recent college graduate. He explained that you will utilize many of the skills you learn in college. The most important thing is to take responsibility for your own position. The only one who can answer for your contributions to the newspaper is you.

  1. Continue to be inquisitive and willing to learn.

All of the editors emphasize the importance of curiosity. It is important to question everything and dig in deep to get a good story out of someone. Willingness to learn about others and about other aspects of journalism will allow you to grow your career.

  1.  Pay attention in all of your classes.

Meg Scarborough, news editor, explained how she agonized over her public relations class in college. However, the class taught her how to write press releases. “I use the skills I learned from that class on a daily basis,” said Scarborough. “We receive several press releases everyday and I know how to decipher them and translate them into articles.”

  1.   Always take your profession seriously, even in college.

Stephen Hargis, sports editor, gave this tip. During his time at college he was a writer for the paper at MTSU. The sports editor at the time was doing a story on the golf team. “He couldn’t remember the students names so he jokingly filled them in with explicatives assuming he’d remember to change them,” said Hargis. “He didn’t and the article got published. The paper faced a lot of backlash for that incident.”

  1.    Learn from mistakes made in college and apply those lessons to future experiences.

Fortunately the sports editor from MTSU was able to recover from his mistake, but something like that would likely lead to losing your job in an actual career. Use your time in college to make mistakes so that you can apply the lessons from them to future challenges.

  1.    Network and write as much as possible.

The more articles you write, the more you can improve your resume and the more likely you are to be hired. Networking in college with other journalists and forming connections will also benefit you when looking for a job.

Following these tips will make your transition from college to a career in journalism smoother.

Samantha Burgess is a junior majoring in communication with an emphasis in digital media and is managing editor for the Triangle. Her interests in writing include profiles and feature articles. Burgess can often be found curled up with a good book, writing, listening to music or watching TV.