How “J-school” has prepared me for the job hunt

My first foray into journalism was during a co-op with a local newspaper when I was in the eleventh grade. Now I’m a fourth-year journalism student about to graduate from university. I’ve learned a lot from almost six years of begging people to return my phone calls and emails for assignments: the importance of doing your research, practising good phone and email etiquette, and applying what I like to call “persistent patience.”

As you can imagine, some of my experiences hunting for sources to interview have not gone so well, but each one has left me better prepared for the next. As I get closer to graduation, I’ve started to realize that many of the skills I acquired while studying journalism are easily transferable to job hunting.

1) Doing your research

Research the company and the job description before you even send out your resumé. This will not only better inform your resumé and cover letter, but will prepare you for any questions you may be asked over the phone. Research also goes a long way in impressing a prospective employer and setting you apart from the rest of the candidates.

2) Meeting deadlines

Respect application deadlines and show up on time for scheduled interviews, whether by phone or in person. Not meeting a deadline makes you look disorganized and like you don’t care about the job. If something comes up that’s beyond your control, give the employer as much notice as possible.

3) Being prepared for a pre-interview

Don’t get caught unprepared. If you can’t think clearly under pressure, draft some talking points and carry them with you at all times.

4) Practising good phone etiquette

Body language is arguably the most telling form of communication, but it is completely lost over the phone. This means you have to amplify your personality and professional charisma when doing phone interviews. To help keep your tone friendly, focus on smiling while you speak. This improves your tone and mood even if you are disappointed by something you hear. And though it may seem strange since the person cannot actually see you, it can help to get dressed up as if you were going to an in-person interview. This puts your mind in a more professional state than if you are sitting on your couch in your pajamas (not to mention, it will keep you from having a heart attack if they ask to do a Skype interview instead at the last minute).

5) “Persistent patience”

If you haven’t heard from the employer within a week, be persistent and follow up, but don’t be pushy about it. This can be done by phone or email, but unless you have another matter you’d like to speak to them about, a carefully crafted email will do just fine. Make sure to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. Also state that you are available to answer any further questions they may have.

6) Don’t be discouraged by rejection.

Rejection is a hard thing to deal with. You may have thought the interview went amazingly well, and then you get the “Thanks, but no thanks” call or email. I’ve dealt with a lot of rejection over the years, both from sources for stories and prospective employers. Some were kind, some were rude, and some just completely ignored me. I’ve learned to just brush it off and move on to the next one. It takes a while to get to this point, but you just have to keep reminding yourself that it’s nothing personal and there’s always another venue to explore. Never let a past negative experience cripple you in your job search.

How has your education helped prepare you for job hunting?

Angela Stairs

Angela Stairs is a fourth-year journalism student at Carleton University. She enjoys writing about lifestyle topics and the arts. She loves to travel and hopes to live abroad after graduation.

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