So you want to be a journalist…

Hi Writers,
Today, let’s chat about the wonderful world of journalism. I’d like to aim this especially at the young ones in journalism, communications and English programs or who recently graduated and are hoping to land a juicy journalism job.

First, allow me to indulge my mentoring side. Are you sure I can’t talk you out of it? How about a less competitive field, like acting, for example?

No, of course I can’t talk you out of it, even with talk of scary low pay, paucity of jobs, and terrifying corporate overlords. Wanting to be a journalist is just something you have to do, so of course you’re not going to listen to reason.

I was having a conversation (read: rant) the other day with my editors and our editorial director here at Writer’s Digest about some corporate thing that was ticking me off.

“Why did we not listen to our parents when they told us not to be journalists,” I said pitifully.

“Because you’re hard-headed,” my editorial director said. “And that’s what makes you a good journalist in the first place.”

Well said. So, since I know I’m not going to talk you out of being a journalist, just as my parents couldn’t talk me out of it, at least try to find yourself a good mentor.

I stumbled upon the most helpful website yesterday Ed is a collective of young magazine editors (and wannabe magazine editors) who have created this website to help young journalists get jobs, mentors, and support, both emotional and financial. They give away two $1,000 scholarships a year to two unpaid interns trying to make ends meet during their internship. (Fall deadline is September 30).

One of my favorite things on their site, though is their 60-minute mentor program, in which they attempt to match you (the just-starting-out journalist, job seeker) up with a working magazine editor for a 60-minute conversation.

What a wonderful opportunity for young journalists to get some up-close and personal advice. And here’s my advice to you: take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way and if you’re lucky enough to find a good mentor, that’s gold, don’t take it for granted.

I’d love to hear from any of you who have had experiences with mentors. Please drop me a line.

Keep Writing,

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One thought on “So you want to be a journalist…

  1. Kirby

    I could have used a mentor 15 years ago when I started out. What a great opportunity for young journalists.

    Should mention, Maria, how glamorous the job is, as I ride down the road in the company van from 1987, bouncing around so much my head hurts, and the windows haven’t rolled down in a year, the hood ornament dangling in the breeze, the one windshield wiper that shoots the fluid over the van, hitting the vehicle behind me, the van shaking as if I’m riding down a dirt road if I go over 50, the key that’s been broken off in the driver’s side door since 2005 so we can’t lock it (this is an open invitation to any thieves out there reading this blog). And when I finally get to my destination, it’s an interview with a cranky woman who’s forgotten why I’ve traveled over an hour to see her and kicks me out. Ahh, what a career!


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