Playing the J-School Name Game

This story is probably familiar to many of you.

I have a wonderful journalism student. She’s done everything she’s supposed to do.

  • Internships? Check. She’s had great internships at local newspapers and a regional magazine.
  • School work? Check. She goes above and beyond.
  • Hard worker? Absolutely. She’s a go-getter, no doubt about it.

The only thing she has not done is go to a journalism school with a top-tier national reputation.

The school where I teach is not Columbia or Missouri or Syracuse. It’s a good, small, public college in Upstate New York. And now that this stellar student is looking for jobs — or even internships — at larger publications, she’s finding it difficult to compete against the students with the J-School Name.

Last night this student came to me to ask what she can do. I told her to keep trying, that sometimes it’s about perseverance, luck and timing. I also told her that ultimately, she might want to consider graduate school at a top journalism school. I have no doubt she’d get in and thrive.

Dear Reader, what should I tell this student? Do you have any advice?


2 responses to “Playing the J-School Name Game

  1. Honestly, it’s not just that she went to SUNY Brockport …Undergrads (and grad students) at Syracuse are having the same problem. It’s just a tough time.

    My suggestions:
    1. Go to grad school if you want. (I don’t really think the problem is the school; it’s the economy and the turmoil the industry is in). Grad school can enhance your resume, skills, and give you good networking tools.
    2. Start a blog and brand yourself even if you don’t make money off it. Pick a topic and become an expert on it.
    3. Free-lance, free-lance, free-lance! You might not be able to live off it right now, but it will give you the clips to get you the job when the industry rights itself.
    4. Be sure you know technical skills — not just journalislm (web design,video-editing, coding, html.) This could get your foot in the door somewhere.
    5. Network, network, network. Make sure you’re on Linked-In, particurlary, but also network in real life. Go to symposium at area colleges, and introduce yourself to the speaker afterward.
    6. Don’t give up. If you’re good, something will work out eventually. It just may take longer than it seems like it should.

    All the best to your student.

  2. Thanks, Gina.

    I’m going to pass all these great tips on to my student.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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