8 Things college journalists should do before they graduate

A new life and career is waiting for you once you graduate. Make sure you are prepared for it by following the tips listed here.

1. Create a portfolio

All the work you did during your college years, including internships or outside work, should be aggregated and posted to an online portfolio. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a collection of your best work that represents your skills. A portfolio is important because it serves as a destination for people searching for you on search engines. Broadcast students should also create a (short) reel and post it online on media-sharing social networks like YouTube for maximum exposure.

2. Blog

You should have been blogging the first day you set foot on campus, but if you haven’t its not too late to start. A blog will show off your ability to write or produce on a consistent basis and demonstrate to potential employers your commitment to journalism. Your blog doesn’t have to be just text either… you can create a photoblog, videoblog, or a blog based on whatever medium you specialize in.

3. Use those business cards

During your collegiate years, you likely talked to guest lecturers or other journalism professionals and perhaps acquired a few business cards. Shoot those individuals an email and ask them if they are hiring or, if you just need some post-graduation advice, if they have time for a cup of coffee. You won’t always get a yes, but the least you can do is ask.

4. Get a new wardrobe

Your collection of Abercrombie t-shirts and flip flops won’t work for your first day on the job or anywhere that doesn’t have beer on tap. Give yourself a professional makeover with suits or office appropriate attire that say “Yes, I have a college degree.”

5. Clean up your social network profiles

Naughty photos and naughty language posted online might get a few giggles when you’re still on campus, but once you leave it’s no laughing matter. Serious journalists should delete or make private anything that may be controversial or offensive to employers or to the audience of your post-grad newsroom.

6. Talk to your professors

Professors are often plugged into the job scene and may know of available journalism jobs. Be sure to ask your professor privately if they have heard of any openings or leads. While you’re at it, you can also ask to list them as a reference. Of course, this only works if you were a good student. If your professor laughs out loud when you ask them for a reference, it may be time to move on.

7. Band together

If you have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and shaping your own career path, work together with your classmates to create your own news organization or collaborative outfit. Identify the skills you can each bring to the table and craft a business plan and marketing strategy for your idea. The best, most innovative projects were started by an unemployed journalists and provided you have a workable idea, there’s no reason you shouldn’t toss your hat in the ring.

8. Have a plan B

Although the likelihood of getting a journalism job is a lot better than it was in the past two years, journalism students should anticipate the possibility of not landing a job at a newsroom. Identify your strengths and how you can parlay those skills into another field while you wait to make your entry into journalism.

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