Indiana University School of Journalism at IUPUI

Advice from Joe Boyce

Retired senior editor at the Wall Street Journal and current adjunct lecturer Joe Boyce offers these tips and reminders for journalism students preparing for jobs and internships.

Internships:

  • Internships are essential in today’s competitive market. The more, the better.
  • Paid internships always trump non-paid.
  • Try and find internships that give meaningful, career-related experience. This does not include running errands and making coffee.
  • Good internships allow for the development of a body of work to show potential employers, i.e. clips, tapes, photo portfolio.
  • Unless an internship opportunity is spectacular, an actual job is preferred upon graduation.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to learn various media delivery platforms. In today’s journalism world, the candidate whose skills include working in print, video and the Internet is the most competitive.
  • If you have not had an internship that produced a portfolio of your work, you can submit to a prospective employer any freelance materials you’ve had published or broadcast. Today, some recruiters consider blogs as evidence of a candidate’s writing abilities.

Jobs:

  • Jobs advertised in the want-ads and on the Internet represent only about 20 percent of the available jobs in most fields.
  • It is perfectly fine to have several versions of your resume, each of which might highlight a different aspect of your qualifications. Just make sure each version is truthful and accurate.
  • Networking, including that with university acquaintances and membership in professional organizations such as SPJ, is an excellent way to learn about available jobs in the field.
  • If your background and ability is not an exact fit with the job’s description but you really want the position, apply anyway. Most employers don’t demand or expect a perfect match.
  • While tattoos, piercings and pink hair may express the inner you, they can keep you out of contention for that job you covet. Take appropriate measures to downplay them.
  • Modest, businesslike attire is always preferred for interviews. The goal is to be taken seriously.
  • Always be on time for interviews.
  • Lying about your previous work history and education is a no-no.
  • In interviews, sit up straight, speak clearly and look the interviewer in the eye.
  • During interviews, keep your cell phone off and do not glance at your watch.
  • Do not hesitate to ask job-related questions during an interview. After all, you are interviewing them as well.
  • Emphasize the value you would bring to the company or media outlet, rather than what it can do for you.
  • Remember, you are not just negotiating salary, but a full compensation package. Besides salary, this includes vacation and sick time, benefits such as health care and tuition assistance, and, in some instances, even future raises and their schedules.
  • If at all possible, avoid giving a figure when asked how much you wish to be paid. Any number you give is the wrong one.(Think about it.) Instead, ask them to make you an offer.
  • Do not disparage previous employers, bosses, colleagues, when being interviewed.
  • If you do not get the position, do not take it personally or see it as failure on your part. Just become more determined. The reasons why one is turned down for a job can be as numerous and mystifying as quills on a porcupine.
  • Research the company or media organization with which you are to interview before the interview.
  • Try and talk with someone who already works for the company or media outlet to which you are applying, preferably someone who has a position identical or similar to the one you are seeking. Ask her or him about the company and working conditions (off the record, if need be).
  • A passion for your profession and your potential place of employment is a plus in interviews.