Thursday, March 24, 2005

Experience Takes Initiative

This semester I’ve finally started taking journalism classes, which is exciting even if it means I’m stuck in the bottom of the Coliseum several hours a day.

After getting in some pseudo-journalism experience, I really feel as though my desire to be a journalist has solidified. However, I am also feeling great internal and external pressure to move outside the classroom and into the field. The need for experience before graduation has been stressed to me since I was a freshman, so I can’t say I’m surprised. I knew it was coming, but I guess I’m still a little startled that it came so soon.

I’ve had several conversations with other j-school students and they echoed some of the same feelings. There was a time when I thought I would easily get an internship the summer before my senior year, and that would be all the experience I needed. Unfortunately, now it seems like gaining experience from an internship even has its prerequisites. Also, it is frustrating to apply for scholarships to be able to continue studying only to realize the people doling out scholarships are looking for… people with experience!

In my Journalism 202 class Bob Bentley, a guest speaker and a USC alumnus, came to educate us on how we could be more appealing to future employers. Having been the editor-in-chief of six newspapers around the country, he said he has hired a lot of people and that a collection of really good clips meant more to him in those interviews than a master’s degree. He said good journalists had talent and initiative, especially when it comes to gaining experience. He also emphasized the importance of writing for student publications, working for experience instead of money, and becoming a “good reader” of newspapers.

Hearing these things over and over again, and now from someone who has turned down straight A students for jobs, it makes me very anxious to begin what appears to be the long process of gaining experience.

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