With final exams wrapped up and last assignments handed in, most post-secondary students have entered summer mode. You know, that time of year where students extend their sleeping hours and catch up on television series.
What lies in between those two to-dos is entirely up to you – but if you’re a journalism student like myself, you’ll soon come to realize that summer time is one of the most important times in your post-secondary career.
Attending your news-writing class is only a small fraction of the successful-journalist equation. It’s what you do in your free time that matters, and what better time to get your reps in as a budding journalist than summer? Here are a couple of tips (besides getting a job or internship) you should consider this upcoming summer if you’re a journalism student.
This goes for any career, really. For journalists, however, being able to establish yourself within a certain beat or audience is important in order to get your voice heard. Social media has certainly made it easier to do so. Tweet at colleagues and share your work on Facebook timelines.
Emailing contacts and arranging a quick coffee meet-up doesn’t hurt either. Picking the brain of a professional is a great way to get a glimpse into the industry. The more people that know your name now will help you later on down the road.
Build up your portfolio with your own work
All of the work in your portfolio doesn’t necessarily have to be published pieces. Your own work – whether it’s written, visual, audio, or digital – can definitely be integrated. Including some of your own work shows initiative on your part, indirectly telling any potential employer that you have a passion for your craft.
While this tip is more geared towards first and second-year students, don’t stop creating your own content and approach any and all work in a professional way. Depending on how some companies look at them, portfolios can be values more than a cover letter or resume.
Like many careers, journalism is an ideal professional to collaborate with like-minded and driven people. The industry has certainly been built for individuals to build their own brand, but collaborating with others is a great opportunity to learn new skills and develop your own techniques in a constructive environment.
Team up to write a great feature article, work on a compelling broadcast piece, or publish a podcast. Actually create something you would be proud to publish. Strive for quality content, and who knows where it will lead? Maybe pitching it will become a viable option.
Improve and experiment with new mediums
Journalism is always evolving, so get used to it. While you may excel at one platform, chances are your skills are lacking in another. If you’re a news writer, tighten your audio editing capabilities. If you’re a video journalist, sharpen your photography. Learning many skills will only enhance your storytelling and give you more options to use. Employers look for multi-talented journalists.
Being social media literate falls under this too. Many social media networks carry multiple functions for posts. Facebook and Twitter will always be there for journalists and have improved significantly over the years, but step outside the usual. Play around with other social networks like Snapchat and Vine. Experiment with these to develop your reporting.
Consume the news
While you’re watching your favourite television drama, why not switch to your go-to news channel during commercial breaks? The more news you consume, the better. Pick up the paper, read stories online, listen to podcasts. Making a habit of consuming the news every day will help you determine what you’re interested in, influence your personal voice or style of writing, and motivate you to produce more content.