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Journalism students get tips from alumni at annual Career Night

Betsy Drazner '12 JOURN
2/28/2011  10:15 am

Students filled the room to hear advice from successful alumni at Journalism Career Night held at at the Levis Faculty Center on February 24. Eight alumni composed a panel of speakers, hosted by Justin Breen '99 JOURN. Breen, assistant managing editor at the Times of Northwest Indiana, posed questions to the panelists to educate students about the various markets they can enter after graduation with a degree in journalism.

Jan Slater, interim dean of the College of Media, introduced the theme of the night to hopeful journalism students.

"I'm here to tell you tonight that journalism is not dead," Slater said. She added that journalism is what tells the story around the world today, including the political uprising in Egypt. Slater encouraged students to chase their dreams.

"There's journalism everywhere," Slater said. She emphasized that we need journalism for democracy.

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Following Slater's introduction, the panel of journalists spoke to the group of about 80 students. Panelists ranged in profession from online, newspaper, magazine, radio, television and public relations. They worked jobs as reporters, editors and producers.

Breen said he and the panelists aimed to help college students succeed in becoming the best journalists they could be.

When asked about how companies made decisions about who to hire, Tamara Starks '90 JOURN said, "The people that impressed me the most were the people with initiative." She said it is important to be professional at all times.

"You have to have a thick skin in this business," Starks said. "Sell yourself."

Applying for a job can be nerve wracking, but Sandra Kofler '04 JOURN, voice editor at Groupon, said not to sweat it. She said to put pride in your work, as if it were another reporting assignment.

"A résumé is obviously really important, but a cover letter lets you strike the right impression," Kofler said. "I treasure reading a really well written cover letter."

Carlos Caceres '08 JOURN, assistant producer for the Jacksonville Jaguars, said students should not expect to have the perfect job handed to them.

"Don't be above getting your hands dirty. It's not always about writing a story or shooting film," he said.

Jeremy Werner '09 JOURN, on-air sports host and reporter for Connect FM, said knowing multimedia is an important trait.

"People want you to do everything nowadays," he said. "Learn as much as possible when in college."

The panelists advised using connections, even professors, to get their work out there. Social media is another untapped source. It's like free advertising. Tweet your stories, make them your status and get your name out there, the panelists said.

When starting in journalism after graduation Werner's advice is simple, "Work your butt off."

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