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Doing a "Walk In" for job-getting.

The Last GentThe Last Gent Registered User regular
edited August 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey all. So, as I'm sure everyone here is aware, the work field blows for 20-somethings right now. Fortunately, I am currently employed, but am trying to find work in my actual field of choice, Journalism. Even volunteer work to expand my portfolio. Now, something I keep hearing is that doing a cold call is a good way to pick up tips about work. I've also heard that an even better way in is to do a cold physical walk-in. Now, there are two local papers in the town I live in. One is hard news, the other is entertainment and community events. It seems doing some sort of walk-in is a natural move. Here's the thing though. I've never done that before in my life, and am at a loss about how to start. Do I go in and ask to see the Editor? What do I say to them? Any advice on how to go about it would be appreciated.

The Last Gent on

Posts

  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    I used to be a journalism major. What have you written before? Did you write for your community college or high school? Are you familiar with the AP stylebook? Have you submitted any of your articles for student competitions or have you been recognized in some manner for your hard work? What sort of skills do you bring to the newsroom? Can you write something you particularly do not like for long stretches of time, edit articles, design spreads, or do photojournalism? These are just a few of the questions you should have brief, and snappy replies to.

  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Fuck Warren Ellis Registered User regular
    I hire people and if someone did a cold walk-in to me I would hate them and never hire them unless they were the most impressive person in the world (ie: having done/won all of the things Lucky Cynic mentioned). Maybe journalism is different - I don't really know. Seriously though, you'd better be like Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness of something.

    I did, however, used to be an industry consultant for the Journalism program at a community college. The numbers for the career choice weren't really pretty. It's like being an artist. You have to really love it because it's not likely to be very lucrative. That, of course, also means that you need much more than your degree. You need to put in the work and build a strong portfolio in order to get your foot in the door. I'd also recommend making use of social media. It was really transforming the type of work students were doing at the college I worked at. A lot of journalists hate social media because it essentially makes everyone an on-the-spot journalist but I found those that learned to accept and integrate tended to do well.

    My 2 cents.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    If you weren't an editor of your well-known university school newspaper who had several internships during college, the only journalism jobs you have a chance at are small town newspapers, mostly in the mid-west. Do not cold-call walk in. People do work during the day, and some kid coming in and round-about begging for a contact or a job isn't going to be endearing.

    Instead, check for your local chapter of SPJ. Call the paper up, get in touch with a desk editor and find out what their freelance policies are. See if they'll let you cover the local PTA meeting for $30, and do an amazing job at it. Maintain contact with the persons you talk to at either of these things and THEN ask them for career advice.

    Better yet, give up on reporting, because there are a thousand people just like you for every job.

    What is this I don't even.
  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote:
    Better yet, give up on reporting, because there are a thousand people just like you for every job.

    This is unhelpful bullshit.

    I'm a paid writer in New York City who recently graduated with a major in journalism. I definitely don't think you should just walk into a place, but there are other things you can do to help yourself out. First, you'll need lots of good clips. The nice thing about journalism as it exists today is that you can write freelance for websites that aren't based anywhere near you. People love to bitch and moan about the so-called death of the industry, but it's actually a great time to be a writer as long as you realize that it's not about to make you rich. (It's very possible to make a living, though, in my experience.) You've got to be ready to think outside of the traditional framework of things though -- landing a staff job at one of those local papers may not be entirely realistic. It's possible that it's also not totally desirable. Also consider nearby television stations, as they often have websites that aren't maintained by the same staff that handles the TV news. See if there's a Patch.com blog in your area.

    If you do feel very strongly about one of the papers, think of a pitch for an article, write it up, and send it to the editor. Make absolutely sure that the article is in their wheelhouse. If you're not a staff writer, you can certainly get paid on a freelance basis, but you have to sell your individual ideas without an editor lobbing them your way.

    But first, you simply have to demonstrate your ability through clips. Set up a nice-looking website that makes them easy to access and throw it in your email signature. I don't always specifically draw attention to mine, but it's been brought up to me as a plus in several job interviews. You'd also be surprised by what catches an editor's eye: I've had work published in some pretty major publications, but sometimes people like to talk about the stuff I've written on my blog. Think of your clips portfolio as a second but no less important part of your resume.

    Contacts are indispensable, too. If you studied journalism in school, email some of your professors and ask if they can give you career advice or put you in touch with someone they know, even if just for an "informational interview." You might be surprised by how much people are willing to help. If you're starting on the ground floor, find the email address for the editor of a site you like and reach out. Check out listings on Indeed.com and MediaBistro. You'll probably send out 20 emails for every one response you get, but that's just how this works.

    Clips, clips, clips first though. Thankfully, you can always report, write, and self-publish.

    Zeromus on
    pygsig.png
  • The Last GentThe Last Gent Registered User regular
    Okay, thanks for the advice so far. I'm going to clarify some stuff. First, I'm in Canada if that helps. Secondly, I did do two separate internships at large news organizations during my schooling, and have contacts I keep in touch with. More importantly, I have a personal website I link in pretty much everything I send that includes articles I've written for my school paper, and clips of radio and TV broadcasts I've done at the internships.

    I spent about two months effectively spamming about 5 different journalism job sites, without a single interview or even a reply outside of the occasional rejection, so right now I'm just looking at these alternate means of career-getting. I'm working with some friends right now to try and get a multimedia-themed website going where we can post articles and video, but it's slow going and I'd rather not jump into it alone, so I am working the online angle, or trying to. And like I said, I am employed, just not in the field I actually want to be in, so it's not like I'm searching to get an income source, just to get into what I want to be in.

    I'm getting the impression that a walk-in is not a good idea though, based on this.

  • ZeromusZeromus Registered User regular
    Okay, thanks for the advice so far. I'm going to clarify some stuff. First, I'm in Canada if that helps. Secondly, I did do two separate internships at large news organizations during my schooling, and have contacts I keep in touch with. More importantly, I have a personal website I link in pretty much everything I send that includes articles I've written for my school paper, and clips of radio and TV broadcasts I've done at the internships.

    I spent about two months effectively spamming about 5 different journalism job sites, without a single interview or even a reply outside of the occasional rejection, so right now I'm just looking at these alternate means of career-getting. I'm working with some friends right now to try and get a multimedia-themed website going where we can post articles and video, but it's slow going and I'd rather not jump into it alone, so I am working the online angle, or trying to. And like I said, I am employed, just not in the field I actually want to be in, so it's not like I'm searching to get an income source, just to get into what I want to be in.

    I'm getting the impression that a walk-in is not a good idea though, based on this.

    Ah, gotcha, this helps.

    In that case, you gotta keep pounding the pavement. Be thankful you've got income to bolster the effort!

    Still, job sites aren't always the way to go. Find contact info for editors and try to get work on a freelance basis - that, of course, could eventually lead to an actual staff position.

    I don't think anyone's going to shoot you dead if you try a walk-in, but if you're really interested in one of the papers, email someone there and set up an actual appointment.

    pygsig.png
  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited August 2011
    Have you submitted to any magazines or websites yet and if not, why not? A lot of magazines have info in them or on their website on how to submit articles.

    Skoal Cat on
    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    I don't think walk-ins are all that effective either. You never know I suppose, but think about it: the people you'd actually want to talk to about openings all have real jobs too, and it's unlikely they have time in their day to take half an hour talking to every random person who walks in the door.

    I would think about what you actually want to do and what about journalism appeals to you; it sounds like you're kind of fixated on newspapers, but newspaper journalism is a small (and shrinking) portion of the overall "people who write things for the public" job market.

    I don't know how large the town you live in is and maybe you've already done this, but I'd be looking for neighborhood publications (newsletters, monthly "newspapers," etc) that might run freelance stuff, and also for websites that cover local or regional stuff in your area. Anything you can do to get your byline on something concrete is good.

    NREqxl5.jpg
    hold your head high soldier, it ain't over yet
    that's why we call it the struggle, you're supposed to sweat
  • The Last GentThe Last Gent Registered User regular
    Actually, radio is my preferred field, I'm aware of print's issues. I only highlighted those two papers by virtue of the fact that they're within easy travel distance, as opposed to the nearest news radio station.

  • MHYoshimitzuMHYoshimitzu Registered User regular
    Surprisingly, I can offer advice on this one. I can tell you what worked for me: persistence.

    I graduated with a journalism degree a year and a half ago. I was applying to companies six months before I graduated and still came up with nothing. So, like most of my graduating class, I was jobless right out of college. It seems to be the norm for the major, don't worry. :)

    I applied for an additional seven months before settling in on a full-time retail job. Hey, I needed insurance. What ended up getting me my current job was the desire to get out of that retail environment, and to do that is a combination of luck, desire, and persistence.

    1. Do research on the companies you're applying to. Are you just sending out resumes, or are you also sending out cover letters with them? Tell them why you want to work for them, not just the qualifications you have. Find out the name of the HR person in charge of new hiring, and address them in the cover letter. Tailor every single cover letter and resume as if that is the only job you are applying for. Use keywords from the job posting to grab their attention. It is a huge timesink, but little things like that show people you care, and you are more likely to get a call back.

    And set a quota for job applications. Do three or four a day, if possible. Write down names/company names/numbers in case you get callbacks so you can sound intelligent on the phone when someone references something you said in that very specific cover letter you made for them.

    2. I actually found my job on Careerbuilder, but there are a number of different journalism-tailored job sites out there. I know you said you tried a few, but have you tried them all? MediaBistro? Journalismjobs.com? Craigslist is a crapshoot depending on where you live. The point is to look everywhere, because if there is even one posting that is different from the rest, it is worth looking at. Heck, even indeed.com has entries that aren't found anywhere else. Look everywhere!

    3. Don't be afraid to look at companies that publish trade journals. Mainstream media is extremely tough to get into, and unless you absolutely love it, you'd probably be making more money as a low-level manager in a retail store. That is the reality for mainstream newspapers (at least in America). If you have experience in a related field, apply to any trade journals in that field. In fact, apply to any trade journal that doesn't require a degree in that field. Oftentimes, these publications are looking at people who are good writers who can pick up the craft as they go along.

    Think about it: even if you have, say, a medical degree, you may not be trained in the particular range of subjects a publication writes about. Even if you are, you're not going to know everything and will have to end up researching a subject like anyone else, which would cost that company more money because they probably hired you at a hire rate to make up for the fact that you have a medical degree. In this case, your inexperience would work to your advantage.

    4. LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, and a personal website with clips is a great way to show you're independent and organized. Sounds like you're on the right track there. Unlike walking into a company and asking for a job, emailing a company and asking them if they currently need freelancers is perfectly acceptable. Better yet, study the publication and come back to them with your own ideas and ask them if they'd like it if you wrote the piece for them. At the very worst, they say no; at the very best, you pick up some extra money if they can afford to compensate their freelancers.

    I hope this helps. It's tough, I know, but if you really want it, something will turn up. Good luck!

    sig.gif
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