So let me start by saying that I don’t claim to be the all-knowing when it comes to broadcast journalism and the broadcast industry, but I’ve been getting tons of questions about my journey in this career and advice for upcoming college graduates, so I thought I’d write four of the best lessons or tips that I learned from mentors when landing my first job!
- Network, network, network! Internships are so important when getting a job in this industry. I took on two internships, one at Fox Sports Southwest, and one at WFAA-TV in Dallas, and that’s where I learned first-hand that I wanted a career in broadcast. Do as much research about the team you’ll be interning with, and be willing to work for free! You’ll learn valuable skills, you can demonstrate your abilities to professionals, and then you can stay in contact with anyone you meet on the way. Make sure to gather lots of business cards and take every single opportunity to write, produce, edit, anchor, report – take in every aspect of the industry. It’s important to shadow the jobs that you want to know if you really want to be a reporter or an anchor or a photographer. Plus, you’ll get the best footage for your demo reel out of your internships. So when you’re working, ask the photographer to shoot a standup or two for you or even shoot a look-live. Ask the anchors if you can take their scripts once they are done and read over them at night!
- Get involved in your school’s media opportunities. I worked closely with Texas Christian University Student Media and served as the Executive Editor of TCU360, my school’s online news source. The hours were rough and I missed out on many social opportunities, but there’s nothing better than taking a leadership position and making friends within your department. Any experience is good experience. Even if there’s a position open that you wouldn’t normally want, take it! It goes back to being a sponge and learning every aspect of the industry.
- Go the extra mile and be tenacious. Know that this industry can be intimidating and unforgiving at times. It seems daunting, but if you know in your heart that this is the industry for you, don’t ever stop trying. Take on the tough stories. Keep contacting sources even if they don’t respond right away. Work the extra hours, ask professionals for advice even if it seems like you’re being a burden. Persevere. Do an extra story or two for your classes. Raise your hand to write the story that no one else wants to write. Sit at the anchor desk in the studio and read the teleprompter over and over. Be a chaser.
- Rely on your mentors. There is one professor at TCU in particular that I still talk to every single day. She is an adviser, a friend and a mentor. Find a person within your department who can identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on your talents. There are people who have been through this industry and are there to help you. They will answer questions and even encourage you when you’re feeling down. And once you find a mentor, become a mentor to another student.