Years after I landed my first journalism job, my mentor shared some advice that I couldn't use. Now, I'm sharing it with you. If you're a recent graduate who has been offered a job, please know that you don't have to take whatever salary they offer initially. You can - and should - negotiate your salary just like veteran journalists. It will take some bravery to speak up and ask for more, but it'll be worth it when your first paycheck hits your bank account. Let's spend the rest of this post breaking down how to negotiate your salary.
The journalism industry is filled with advocacy organizations from the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists to the Online News Association and even the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Every year, these organizations host national or region conferences that are open to working journalists and other media professionals. These are events that recent journalism graduates should strongly consider attending and here's why.
Any college student who is serious about getting a journalism job should have already visited the most popular job sites like - journalismjobs.com or mediabistro.com - just to name a few. For students graduating soon or recent graduates, there are a few key words or phrases in the job ads that you should look for. Those phrases include: "entry level," "immediate opening," and "recent graduates encouraged." So let's break down what those phrases mean.
A few days ago, my mentor sent me a Facebook message because he wanted to tell me a story. He was at a job fair a few days ago where he met a young man who had recently graduated from journalism school. This graduate wants to work as a reporter in the New York City area. Unfortunately, this graduate has none of the necessary skills to make that dream happen. He has no multimedia skills, no networking skills, no idea how to freelance, and no idea how to even pitch stories to publications.
During the past few weeks, I've been helping a recent graduate pull together the materials she needs to land her first journalism job. We started slow and simple. First, we re-worked her resume then we agreed upon a few work samples she could use as clips. For the remainder of 2017, she and I will work on writing the perfect cover letter, finding job openings online and planning for a big move out of New York. I went into this partnership not knowing what to expect, but I'm happy to say I've really enjoyed coaching her.
Earlier this year, I was hand-picked to fill a vacated board seat for the Rochester Association of Black Journalists. When the previous board members left Rochester, I became the vice president for social media. Taking over the VP of social media means I'm in charge of the digital aspects of RABJ until 2017. While in this position, I'm hoping to make a few changes that will elevate the chapter and make potential members more enticed to join our organization. More specifically, I have five goals I hope to accomplish as the social media VP.
Undoubtedly, the most important teacher in my grade-school years was an African-American woman named Keisa Sterling. She was my 12th grade English teacher. She was energetic, gorgeous, intelligent and, most importantly, passionate about the written word. In her class, I read Othello, Romeo & Juliet and Frankenstein. From those lessons, I learned to draw meaning from stories - no matter what form they took. That skill helped me later in life for reasons I'll explain below.
The New York State Associated Press Association released the winners of its 2015 journalism contest. Oddly enough, I won third place in the business writing category. The announcement shocked me more than sticking your tongue in an electrical socket. Still, I'm humbled and grateful to have been honored. In fact, my employer the (Rochester) Democrat and Chronicle won a ton of awards in the contest, including Newspaper of Distinction. This is a noteworthy prize because my employer is in the same competing category as powerhouse New York newsrooms like the New York Daily News and Newsday.