July is almost here! Sorry for the delay. I’ve had this post typed for a while but getting sent to the ER and recovering definitely set me back a bit on posting (more on that on Monty’s Mayhem). I’ve had a whirlwind of a summer so far, but still not much to put in my portfolio, which, for some odd reason, in my generation means I’m wasting my summer? Well, summer’s not over yet. There are tons of tricks of the trade to do during the summer that not only can help you get ahead as a journalist and go on your resume, but for some of them, you don’t have to leave your house!
- Get an internship. It doesn’t have to be paid. It doesn’t have to be in-person. Internships are great ways to improve/learn skills such as AP Style, finding stories, etc. while getting experience in different types of journalism. Good places to search them include sites like mediabistro or, if you’re in school, check out your college’s career center. As always, there’s no better place to look than the place you’re interested in. If you already have a place in mind, check out their website for info or call proving their worth and potentially create your own position!
- Volunteer. Most news places, especially local ones, are in need of free labor. You can learn some tricks of the trade, get your face in people’s heads, and it’s no pressure. Most volunteering is done on your own schedule, unlike an unpaid internship. In fact, volunteering may be better for you personally than an unpaid internship and before you accept an internship, look at these guidelines first to make sure it’s right for you
- Start a blog. Yes, you can put blogging on your resume. It’s a great way to keep an online portfolio and keep your writing skills up-to-date with opportunity for feedback. But what should you write about? It depends on what you’re interested in. If you have a lot of authority on a subject like anime or digital photography, recap shows or examine new techniques and products. If you want to try something new this summer, like cooking or skateboarding, start a blog to keep yourself on track and meet others who are experts or novices like you. Whatever you decide, your blog should stay within its theme and a lot of places like wordpress and blogger let you host them for free.
- Prepare for next summer. If your current summer is not all that you hoped it would be, get determined to make the next one even better. Look at applications for jobs and internships you missed out on due to poor scheduling or lack of seniority and start drafting your responses. If you’re not in school this summer, you have a better chance of not getting distracted and finishing your applications early.
- Take some classes. You can enroll in courses for credit or no credit at local schools, but also keep in mind, there are some courses online. They range from expensive to free, lasting weeks or lasting minutes, and are on a wide array of subjects. It’s pretty easy to search for them online (Poynter offers a lot in journalism).
- Learn some skills. Have you ever wanted to add a skill to your resume but never had time to learn it? Well, now’s the time! If it’s a foreign language, get your Rosetta Stone/Pimsleur/Duolingo kits and practice everyday. Practice AP Style with mini-guides online. Get some coding basics under your belt. Learn how to use your devices (computer, smartphone, mp3 player, etc.) to their fullest potential by looking up tips and making your life easier. If you want to become an expert on anything, now’s the time to do it.
- Get a job. If you can’t find any work in journalism, there’s no shame in getting a job outside your field. It’s still work experience and you can use the money to save up for a new computer that can handle video and photo editing software, that crazy expensive video and photo editing software, kits, tape recorders, cameras, or journalism conference fees. In other words, use your non-journalism job to further your journalism career.
There are tons of ways to get ahead in your career, some you don’t even have to leave your house for! Let me know if you end up starting a blog by leaving the url in the comments below and I’ll check it out!