Welcome to the seventh episode of Classroom 224. My name is Butler Cain, and I’m your host and producer.
Some of the best advice I received in one of my first mass communication classes as a college freshman was this: make good grades, but get experience. No one will hire you if you can’t do the job.
It’s critical to start your professional journey as early as possible. Take what you’re learning in the classroom and apply it to these opportunities.
Number 1 – Student Media. This is a gold mine of experiential learning. Seek out your campus newspaper, yearbook, radio or TV station. The best programs give you on-the-job experience and have an adviser to provide you with mentorship, instruction, and perspective. This is the place to learn from rookie mistakes and to begin establishing your professional reputation and ethical framework.
Number 2 – Professional Media. Students who begin putting together a solid portfolio of work, and who show they are reliable and willing to learn, increase their chances of getting hired by a professional media organization while they’re still in school. It will likely be part-time, but it’s a critical opportunity to learn from others and build a professional network.
Number 3 – Internships. Some are paid, but many are not. The communication industry continues to debate the merits of paid versus unpaid internships. Many academic programs require students to take one for academic credit, meaning some students are actually paying to work for free. Still, internships are important. They help you expand your professional contact list, and they give you opportunities to develop new skills.
Number 4 – Do it on your own. The mass media ecosystem is very inclusive for those who have some technology at their disposal. Start a podcast. Write a news story about an issue affecting your community. Design a flyer for a neighborhood project. Produce a short video documentary.
No matter how many different ways you gain professional experience, create a digital portfolio to showcase your work. As your skills improve, remove some things and add new ones. Consider it a work in progress, and be sure to share the link with potential internship supervisors and employers. Students who have a professional-looking online portfolio have a head start on their competition.
Pros and profs, if you have some advice for students as they begin their professional journey, share it on this episode’s page at ButlerCain – dot – com.
On the next episode, I’ll tackle a topic that still stirs a lot of debate – résumés.
The music you hear on this podcast was produced by Kipp Cain and is used with his permission.
You’ve been listening to Classroom 224, I’m Butler Cain. Take care.
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