Monday, September 29, 2008

Apply for journalism internships now; here's help

The deadlines for many summer 2008 newspaper internships start to fall around the end of October. Now's a great time to start getting your applications ready, even if you still have a couple years before you graduate.

A solid first internship can lead to a great second internship before you graduate -- and a better job afterward. Multiple internships also let you try out different jobs, which can definitely shape your decisions. And in the current converging world of journalism, those with skills on many platforms are most attractive: You could combine, say, a summer of producing video or creating content for a Web site with a summer of beat reporting at a local paper. That would make a pretty appealing package.

First, some links to get things started:
Second, some quick advice, with more to come later this week on this blog:
  • Sign up for a professional-looking e-mail address (e.g., just your name, not icanhazkitteh345) -- and, if you can afford it, your own domain. More on this below.
  • Join LinkedIn, fill in your background (and join our group for contacts!)
  • Scrub any embarrassing photos, political diatribes and anything else you don't want your boss to see off your Facebook and MySpace pages, your old blog from high school and anything else that comes up when they Google your name.
  • Start saving printouts, clips or links to your best work now. It's harder than it might seem to round it all up the Thursday night before it has to be sent off. Get in the habit of saving these and adding your best new work to the top -- it sounds like a pain, but I have learned through mind-grinding experience that this is a habit that will serve you well.
  • Read about internships that interest you and see what they are asking applicants to provide (links to four videos you produced, three news stories, etc.) If you don't already have those, you still have a month to get some together!
Extra credit:

If you can, spend $10 to reserve a professional-sounding domain -- your name is a good choice, but not the only choice. Plan to use it to showcase your work. Poynter's E-Media Tidbits recently had some great advice on using a blog as "career insurance" for media professionals, giving specific advice on choosing a domain name, managing your site and what to post on your blog.

Now that you've polished your online presence, here's a great article a coworker of mine wrote on how to polish your personal image and why -- even in creative fields -- looking neat matters when you go to the interview or while you are on the job. It's a new world and we're not talking about wearing suits. But what does a trendy haircut say about you? What colors can make you look more professional in almost any type of clothing? Read on...

Both of these articles talk about "your personal brand," which seems to be the current buzz phrase in journalism job-seeking and other endeavors. The idea seems to be that you may change jobs a lot (or you may not), but within that you can always sort of "work for yourself" and maintain a professional identity of your own as, for example, Sue from sues-news.com who Tweets as @aggiejournalist ... an identity you can control. (My Web site looks icky, I'm working on it.) And the president of a career-management company recently told me that 80% to 90% of jobs in a field like mine come from people who already know you.

That's it for now -- but more posts on job hunting, interviewing and strategies are coming this week!