Getting my first journalism job

My written out strategy to get a journalism job

Something I’ve realized about myself is that when I really want something –I am very strategic about getting it. This showed when I first started applying to colleges and kept a huge organized binder filled with information on each college I was interested in, or the very detailed chart I created to apply for college scholarships.The same rang true when it came to running my wedding videography business and getting CNU TV up and running two years ago.

I’m one of those people that has my whole life planned out, but as a realist I realize that there has to be a lot of flexibility when it comes to long term plans. So when it came to hunting for a broadcast journalism job, I wrote out a list that including three phases of different strategies to get a job. The first phase began back in June–although I was still in school until August, I began applying for jobs all over the country via email, very randomly to essentially put feelers out. This strategy only got me one interest email from NBC Montana but panned into nothing. Also around this time I interviewed for a production technician job at WTKR, but it turned out the production manager did not think it would be a good fit for me and they hired someone else.

I wasn’t very serious about applying for jobs during this period because not only had I not graduated yet, but I also had weddings that I had to film booked solid every weekend from May 7-October 22nd. So I was bound to the area until the end of October!

The second phase began at the end of August after I completed my internship. I printed out a Nielson 2010 market chart that lists the cities and markets of every station in the country. I put little dashes next cities that were market 100+ that sounded interesting and then googled “broadcast stations in ____” then reviewed each website to see if there were any job openings for entry level reporters such as one man banders/videojournalists/multimedia journalists and if there were, I would email the news director a cover letter, link to my portfolio website, and resume. This took minimal effort so I applied to about 20 stations this way, really not expecting anything to stick. I was waiting for the months to inch closer toward October before I started sending out paper applications because I wanted to be able to move immediately if I was offered anything.

The second phase of my strategy

Toward the end of September I made a list of people from each of my internships that I had made a solid connection with and that I also thought of as mentors. Then I went to Linkedin.com and typed in each of their names. I then compiled a list of stations that each individual had worked at in the past. I took to google next and searched each station website to see if any had job openings. A good amount of them did not have stations with openings, but about a handful did.

So I made a new list with the stations that did have openings, I then went back to linkedin.com and typed in the stations call letters into the seach bar and noted if I had any shared connections with anybody that worked at those stations. I then wrote down the shared connections and determined if they were people that knew me well enough to put in a good word for me at that station. By then end of this search I only had three stations on my list that I had connections to. I also picked three random stations and began burning resume reel dvds, filling out numerous pages of paper applications, printing out sticker address labels, and printing out resumes and cover letters and purchasing packing materials. Needless to say it was significantly more work than just sending out mass emails with my links included.

I finally sent out all of my paper applications on September 17th, and let me tell you, shipping out 6 envelopes with priority shipping with tracking labels was not cheap. Thank goodness for the internet!

I expected to sit tight and wait a long time before I heard anything back, but on Monday September 19th I received an interest voicemail from KNOE in Louisiana wondering if I was still interested in the job and a call from WVEC to discuss the production assistant job. The interesting thing is that both of those jobs I applied for via email! Which made me feel a bit foolish for spending so much money at the post office a few days earlier. So the very next day after a conversation with both KNOE and WVEC, I had interviews set up. One on that  Wednesday at WVEC and another for the following Wednesday at KNOE in Monroe, Louisiana. Believe me it was a strange feeling knowing that everything was happening so quickly. All of a sudden it felt like my real life was FINALLY happening.

The interview at WVEC went great! I had so much fun touring the building and meeting everyone because I had interned at both of their rival stations and had never been to WVEC. Everybody there was so nice and I got to interview with Greg Brauer who is a CNU alumni and brothers with the vice president of the university, Bill Brauer whom I had interviewed the summer before for an article I was writing for the newspaper. It was a fantastic experience.

Flying over Mississippi to get to Louisiana!

My interview at KNOE went great too! My mom was able to accompany me on the trip so it wasn’t completely scary staying in a strange new place for a few days.

I interviewed with the news director Marla Gilcrease, who is super nice and very interesting. She was working at Fox News in New York City during September 11th, how wild is that. I then got to be interviewed by the brand new General Manager Ed Ortelli who is brand new and started 5 days earlier.

The exterior of KNOE

He asked me all about my journalism philosophy and what I thought was good journalism vs. bad, fortunately through my experiences in the past year I know exactly what my specific news philosophy is. I got to spend the day with reporter Jordyn Taylor, who by the end of the day became my future roomate! Everybody I met was really great and the sets at KNOE are brand new, shiny, and beautiful! I could definitely see myself working there, I even sat in the cubicle that would be mine.

A week later, Marla called and offered me the job! I start two weeks from today!

So if anybody reading this has aspirations to be a television news reporter, it can be done! You just have to have right amount of experience, knowledge, strategy, and passion. If you really love and believe in journalism, then you can do it.

Here is the email that got me my first journalism job:

The email that got me my first job!