Ralph Merkel, right, talks with business editors about coaching new graduates. Editors, from left, are Jodi Schneider (hidden), Linda Austin, Kathy Tulumello and Ilana Lowery.
Experienced editors discussed with Reynolds Week Professor fellows on what they expect from journalism school students hunting for jobs.
The panel members included Linda Austin, executive director of the Reynolds Center and former editor of Lexington Herald-Leader; Ilana Lowery, longtime editor at Phoenix Business Journal; Kathy Tulumello, business center director at the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com; and Jodi Schneider, Congressional team leader at Bloomberg News.
Consensus among the editors was that times have changed and professors have a tougher job coaching students in ways to battle for the few good jobs out there. Key points they shared about hiring journalism school students include:
Q: What do editors look for in the students that they might hire?
LOWERY: A right fit. This means the students have to be passionate about business journalism, have good attitude, and know how to present themselves in front of CEOs. They do not need to be financial statement experts at the entry level, but must have excellent intangible qualities.
Reynolds Center President Andrew Leckey joined the panel of business editors coaching journalism professors.
TULUMELLO: Internship. This gives students clips, hands-on experience and persuasive references. Other than this, editors also look for initiative, teamwork, accurate facts in stories and attention to details. Also, early application is encouraged because interns are subject to background checks, drug test and other tests that full-time employees go through.
AUSTIN: Initiative, which is the students’ willingness and ability to learn. Judgment, which indicates whether students could make the right call under difficult situations. If no, whether they could learn from the mistake. Teamwork, which encompasses the students’ ability to efficiently cooperate with the TV staff, photo staff, etc.
SCHNEIDER: Structured Internship; and Recommendation from people who the student has worked with. And students should also keep in touch with organizations where they and other students have interned in or freelanced for.
Q: What are editors expecting from students’ résumés?
SCHNEIDER: Professional Experience. This includes internship, student publication and classroom experience. The résumé should be less than a page long, and the content should only be journalism-related. Reference. In addition to putting “reference available upon request,” students are encouraged to include the references’ contact information, as well as one-sentence descriptions or comments from them.
TULUMELLO: Highlights of the Internships. Students should include bullet points detailing what they have achieved in particular professional experiences.
AUSTIN: An Online Résumé. This is portable, universally accessible, and shows students’ multimedia skills.
Q: How students can approach the interview?
TULUMELLO: Ability Highlights. Bullet points are preferred. And students’ Network with people who work with the publication. Handwritten Thank-You Note after the Interview. This shows the applicant’s manner and his/her desire to get the job.
SCHNEIDER: Body Language. And how serious the young applicant is about journalism and the publication. Stay in Touch. After the interview students should check their voicemail frequently. If they do not respond to a call-back within several days, the publication assumes the applicant is not interested.
The panel members also suggest that students should do comprehensive background research on publications they are applying for, always show up at interviews on time, and keep their social network websites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as professional as possible. Also, any skills that are obviously required, such as Microsoft Office, should not show up on the résumé.