Applying for jobs: when to apply as a journalism major

Getting a job before graduation

So, I don’t know if y’all are like me, but when I ask for answers to my questions I want just that, answers. When I was in elementary school (I think) my family embarked on a study of the book The Purpose Driven Life I was so excited to read that book because my parents told me it would help my parents find my purpose in life. Little did I know, the book did not end in one of those handy flow charts that would tell me if I was supposed to be a teacher, a doctor or a dolphin trainer. I have since learned that, that book had so much wisdom and was definitely more helpful for my life (especially in elementary school) without a flow chart.

However, when I set out to start looking into applying for jobs, there were so many questions that I wanted to just google and find the answer to them or ask my dad and he give me a straight, clear-cut answer that would solve all my problems. So, I got a few of those (which I was super grateful for), but a lot of the time I got answers that would change depending on the type of career I was pursuing, when I was graduating, if I would get an internship again before graduating and a whole host of other issues. So, without further ado I would like to answer a couple of the questions I had for the blogging world just in case someone in the future googles the same questions I had.

Today’s Topic: When should I start applying for jobs as a journalism major?

I had so many friends that were going to engineering or business and were applying six months to a year before they were going to graduate and actually getting interviews and offer packages. These companies have HUGE hiring classes that all take trainings together and it’s like more school but in the corporate world. I’ve never heard of anything like that in the journalism world. If you have, be sure to let me know because I’m kind of curious about it.

With that said, as I’m sure you know if you’re looking for journalism jobs, it’s not exactly an industry where they have time to wait around to fill a reporter’s spot. There is one person in each position and not a whole lot of room for people to pick up the slack. So, beginning to apply for jobs a year before you actually enter the workforce will honestly make your life a whole lot harder.

So, here’s what I would say…

6 months before:
-Reach out to people you’ve interned with/for and let them know you’re graduating soon
-Start talking to your professors and people you know to see if you can get your resume critiqued
-Start writing a “form” cover letter that you can tweak before applying to each specific job
-Network Network Network…if you have the opportunity to attend conventions, happy hours, whatever it is, with other journalists do it and hand out your business card
-Start looking on journalism job posting websites to see what’s out there. If you find the absolute most perfect job you’ve ever seen don’t be afraid to go ahead an apply, but make sure they know you’re not graduated just yet.

3 months before:
-By now you should have your resume and form cover letter built. If not, GET ON THAT.
-Start looking more seriously at jobs. If you see any you like, go ahead an apply for them. However, don’t start applying to every job you see just yet. See my post about that here.
-Reach out to any contacts you have in the industry and see if they know of any jobs that are hiring. If not, ask them to let you know of any they hear of.

1 month before:
-Hopefully, by now you have a job! If not, start thinking about the types of jobs you’re applying for. Are they too big, not in your interest area, etc. If you’re just out of college and applying to be a beat reporter at The Washington Post, you’re probably not going to get it. Sorry to crush your dreams.
-Begin casting your net a little wider in terms of jobs that you’re applying for, but still, don’t apply to just anything.

Congratulations, you’ve graduated!

If you still don’t have a job by this point, it can be easy to get discouraged. Your friends are starting to move out of their parents’ houses and start these grand adventures and you’re still sleeping in your childhood bedroom. Keep applying, though. However, at this point, know that you’re not going to get everything you want. If you wanted to work at a daily, start applying to weeklies too. If you only wanted to work in New York City, look down the East Coast. Don’t apply for jobs you’re going to be miserable in, but know that you may not be applying for jobs that are the best fit for you.

Good luck!

Do you have any journalism job tips?


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