Posts filed under ‘College’

How Not to Get a Job in Journalism

newspaper-2Louise, a senior in a Journalism program at an Australian university, had an encounter with an astute hiring manager who used a practical interview exercise to evaluate potential new hires. Louise writes well, so perhaps she has some skills needed for this craft, but her first experience in actual Journalism was memorable but not successful.

A practical interview exercise is a hiring method where the applicant is evaluated on their ability to perform a series of actions that are directly related to the job they want. Examples include asking welder candidates to join a seam, asking heavy equipment mechanic candidates to troubleshoot a faulty hydraulic brake system, or asking recruiter candidates to write up a job posting on a tight deadline. Anyone can talk a good game, but a practical interview exercise asks the candidate show what they can do.

Here’s how it went, as Louise described on her Student Journalism 101 blog:

“Hi, I’m Peter. The editor. The one who you have been conversing with over the emails.”

He seemed very official, very serious, very busy, very… all the describing words that make a job applicant feel more lacking in self-assurance and the situation all of a sudden very real.

“Hi Peter, yes I assumed that. Nice to meet you.”

“Come with me to my office and we’ll have a talk about what’s going to happen today.”

Interview time. Game face: on.

“I will not be interviewing you.”

Great.

“I don’t believe in interviews, they don’t tell me anything. I find that a lot of the time people will sound like an excellent candidate in words, yet their work is not very good at all. Instead, you will spend today doing work tests that will be led by the chief of staff. Not only do you have to impress a grumpy old editor like me, you also have to prove to the other journalists that you’re the right candidate for the job. At the end of the day, because they are such a tight-knit group, it is up to them to decide whether they like you or not and believe me, they are a tough bunch.”

“So… what exactly will I be doing in this work test?” I tentatively asked Peter, trying to hide the nerves in my voice.

“You will be writing two articles for the paper tomorrow.”

Gulp.

“The head of staff will assign you stories which you are to complete. Oh and by the way, these country folk will be able to smell out whether you are an experienced journalist or not. If you don’t seem credible enough or they begin to wonder if you really know what you’re doing, they’ll eat you alive.”

Wow! “…people will sound like an excellent candidate in words, yet their work is not very good…” is an insightful comment from brilliant hiring manager. Yes – anyone can talk a good game, especially in a word-driven field like Journalism. His practical interview exercise offers both a realistic job preview, and tests the real skills needed to survive in the role.

a-u-map

As it turns out, the classwork that Louise had completed for her major had little relevance to how the field actually works. (This is not a specific knock against the Australian University System <above>. The same problem is endemic throughout the USA’s University System too.) Louise reflects:

At university, we have weeks, if not a month to write an article and submit it for assessment. Obviously, I knew I didn’t have weeks in which to finish my story today, but in only a couple of hours?

In all my years of studying, I have never been under this type of pressure before. Nor had I ever learned how to cold call from a list of PR numbers or anything even remotely similar.

I believe that’s the problem with the majority of today’s journalism courses. Students spend months and years analyzing texts, studying media convergence, writing essays about journalistic standards, outlining business proposals and critiquing god knows what and what for – but this has largely nothing to do with what really goes on in the day to day jobs of working journalists.

University may enable degrees, but they do not prepare students in the slightest for the real world of journalism work.

Louise learned an important lesson about the disconnect between school and work. One hopes that she did not take on an extraordinary student loan debt to learn this lesson.

Please see the whole article here:
http://studentjournalism101.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/how-not-to-get-a-job-in-journalism/

A few extra thoughts for Louise:

  1. Good on you for starting a blog. Blogging is great practice for print journalism, especially if you work on a deadline. See the master, professional journalist James Lileks at lileks.com.
  2. Good on you for trying to get an cadetship (which I think is Australian for “internship”). Your trial by fire gave you a look into how your profession works. Better to know now how it works, instead of getting hit after graduating and getting hired.
  3. Keep at it. You’ve had a taste of the profession – hopefully you can make your way back into the field.
  4. Please write more.

Hopefully, we’ll hear more from Louise, preferably in print.

11 October 2013 at 12:27AM Leave a comment

One for the Class of 2013…

entry-level  Jobs

23 May 2013 at 12:34AM Leave a comment

Faking College Degrees Never Works

Thinking of making up a college degree? In a word: DON’T. Web technology has made it very easy for employers to check credentials at most institutes of higher education. The most common lie regarding a degree is graduation when a candidate only attended the school. The correct way to list attendance without suggesting a degree is:

University of Colorado, School of Business. Attended 1999-2002

If you don’t have a diploma proving you have a bachelors or masters, don’t say that you do. Your future employer will rescind your offer.

10 August 2012 at 12:41AM Leave a comment

How Not to Get a Job: Go to College

A story in yesterday’s WaPo sheds some interesting light on which type of college grads suffer more from unemployment:

Recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the arts, humanities and architecture experienced significantly higher rates of joblessness, according to a study being released Wednesday by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Among recent college graduates, those with the highest rates of unemployment had undergraduate degrees in architecture (13.9 percent), the arts (11.1 percent) and the humanities (9.4 percent), according to the study.

The recent college graduates with the lowest rates of unemployment had degrees in health (5.4 percent), education (5.4 percent), and agriculture and natural resources (7 percent.) Those with business and engineering degrees also fared relatively well.

One of the study authors makes the point:

“People keep telling kids to study what they love — but some loves are worth more than others,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, one of the study’s authors. “When people talk about college, there are all these high-minded ideas about it making people better citizens and participating fully in the life of their times. All that’s true, but go talk to the unemployed about that.”

The analysis, which was based on 2009 and 2010 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, comes amid an increasing debate over the value of college education…

The Hard Times report from the source, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, describes their major findings:

  1. Choice of major substantially affects employment prospects and earnings.
  2. People who make technology are better off than people who use technology.
  3. In general, majors that are linked to occupations have better employment prospects than majors focused on general skills. But, some occupation specific majors, such as Architecture, were hurt by the recession and fared worse than general skills majors.
  4. For many, pursuing a graduate degree may be the best option until the economy recovers. But, not all graduate degrees outperform all BA’s on employment.

All good points to keep in mind.

Study author Carnevale points that studying what you love (a.k.a. Following your Passion) is no guarantee of success. Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs spoke at “The Entertainment Gathering 2008” and addressed that same problem.

Follow your passion? What could possibly be wrong with that?

Probably the worst advice I ever got. Follow your dreams and go broke.

That’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I was told that if you follow your passion, it’s going to work out.

I can give you 30 examples right now.

Bob Combs, the pig farmer in Las Vegas who collects the uneaten scraps of food from the casinos and feeds them to his swine. Why? Because there’s so much protein in the stuff we don’t eat that they grow at twice the normal speed, and he is one rich pig farmer. And he’s good for the environment and he spends his days doing this incredible service. He smells like hell, but God bless him, he’s making a great living.

You ask him, ‘Did you follow your passion here?’ and he’d laugh at you. The guy’s worth… he just got offered 60 million for his farm and he turned it down. He didn’t follow his passion. He stepped back and watched where everyone was going and he went the other way.

And I hear that story over and over.

See Mike Rowe and the War on Work for the video. The Passion part starts at 12:00

5 January 2012 at 12:21AM Leave a comment

WSJ: War on Interns

One of the house editorials from today’s (7 April) Wall Street Journal:

War on Interns

Making it illegal to work for free.

The labor market is still in recession, but for younger workers it feels more like a depression. In the last year, the unemployment rate among workers age 20 to 24 has risen to almost 16%, and among teenagers to 26%.

You might therefore expect a federal effort to encourage employers to give unskilled youngsters a chance. You would be wrong. The feds have instead decided to launch a campaign to crack down on unpaid internships that regulators claim violate minimum-wage laws.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” the Labor Department’s Nancy J. Leppink tells the New York Times.

The Times also quotes Trudy Steinfeld, director of New York University’s Office of Career Services, regarding opportunities for unpaid internships. “A few famous banks have called and said, ‘We’d like to do this,’ said Ms. Steinfeld. “I said, ‘No way. You will not list on this campus.'” To be fair, she doesn’t want a Labor Department enforcer knocking on her door next week. But we wonder what NYU students trying to get their feet in the doors of financial firms think about Ms. Steinfeld rejecting opportunities on their behalf.

How all of this helps young people who are trying to develop marketable skills is a mystery. While the Department of Labor may insist the world owes these kids a living, the truth is that many young workers are willing to trade free labor for a chance to demonstrate their skills and build a resume for the next job. Especially in a bad labor market, the choice college students face may be to work without pay, or hang by the beach.

This isn’t exploiting young people. It’s letting young people exploit an opportunity.

7 April 2010 at 11:27PM Leave a comment

AoM on The Importance of Paying Your Dues

Courtesy of the Art of Manliness blog, some advice for those who want instant gratification in their career:

Success comes from years of hard work. Not only do many millenials expect to land their dream job right away, they also expect to immediately live the same lifestyle they had when they left their parents’ house. They want nice clothes, nice furniture, a brand new car, and a nice house the moment they set out in life. Of course, in order to do this right off the bat, these young people have to take on huge amounts of debt.

McKay goes on:

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he posits that greatness comes through adherence to the “10,000 hour rule.” Pointing to people like the Beatles and Bill Gates, he argues that their success came from practicing their skills for 10,000 hours, not through some inherited genius.

We’d all love to be rich overnight, but unless you win the lottery, it just isn’t going to happen. The path to success is hewed through years of dedicated and relentless hard work. In short, you have to pay your dues before success comes.

The emphasis above is mine. See the whole article here.

http://artofmanliness.com/2009/08/31/the-importance-of-paying-your-dues/In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he posits that greatness comes through adherence to the “10,000 hour rule.” Pointing to people like the Beatles and Bill Gates, he argues that their success came from practicing their skills for 10,000 hours, not through some inherited genius.We’d all love to be rich overnight, but unless you win the lottery, it just isn’t going to happen. The path to success is hewed through years of dedicated and relentless hard work. In short, you have to pay your dues before success comes.

2 January 2010 at 7:27PM Leave a comment

How NOT to Get a Job in the Communications Industry

Hodgson/Meyers is an award-winning marketing communications agency in Kirkland Washington. They focus on improving their client’s B2B communications. Gary Meyers, the president of Hodgson/Meyers, receives many job inquiries from the college aged demographic. His experience is like mine, in that most of them blow it entirely.

Earlier this week, Meyers blogged about some recent communications he’s received from those with college degrees in English or Communications. He provided two examples. Here’s the first:

Inquiry #1 (name changed, spelling, punctuation and grammar per original):

Hello,
my name is Janie Doe, Im interested in getting into advertising and
trailor making of major motion pictures and i came across your
company. I’m a graduate of the UW in 05/09 and am looking for
an internship possibility or if your hiring some time soon
thank you
Janie

Gary offers these poor unfortunates four points of good advice. Here’s his first:

1. Use proper spelling and grammar. Not lower-case text slang riddled with misspelled words and poor punctuation. You are looking for a job in a field where professional communications skills are critical. Reading the above email is painful.

See all of Gary’s advice, and one more painful example, here:
http://blog.hodgsonmeyers.com/2009/10/01/how-not-to-get-a-job-in-the-communications-industry

Any company that offers complimentary tattoos of the Pileated Woodpecker would be a cool place to work. Click the link to Spike’s page to get yours. (Maybe Hodgson/Meyers will send me some for my Cub Scouts!)

UPDATE 13-OCT-09: For more NotJobs tips on how NOT to get that PR/Marketing/Communications agency job, see these postings:

10 October 2009 at 12:54PM 1 comment

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My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.

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