Posts tagged ‘interns’

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

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

How Not to be an Intern

Kevin Colvin forgot the first rule of the 21st Century: “Your privacy is an illusion.”

Tips:

18 July 2008 at 10:10PM Leave a comment


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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