In the world of newspapers, magazines, and book publishing, some experts advise that you should take any job you can to get your foot in the door. If you want to be an editor, for example, you could start out as a contract assistant, then move into an editorial position, and up the ladder to senior editor or higher. If you get yourself in the door, and get to know the people in the department for which you prefer to work, your chances are better than those of an unknown candidate who wants to go immediately into an editorial position.
The same holds true for radio and television stations. Production assistants with a proven track record, for example, will move into higher level positions than job candidates off the street.
Prepare a Portfolio/Audition Tape
For photojournalists, there are a few different routes to take in the job hunting process, but they all include putting together a professional portfolio.
Some photojournalists identify the papers they would like to work for and, at their own expense, fly out to talk to the different editors even when they know there are currently no openings. This approach, though a bit costly for someone just starting out, can often work. The job applicant makes himself known, and when an opening does occur, potential employers will remember your top quality portfolio.
Job hunting through the mail can be just as effective. Send out your portfolio with a good cover letter. Don't be afraid to mention any story ideas you might have. Newspapers aren't looking for robots, and they appreciate a photojournalist who does more than stand behind the camera and click the shutter.
Then follow up a week or so later as a reminder. You can make up your own picture postcards, using your best work. This helps to jog the editor's memory and shows how creative you are.
Potential DJs and announcers, once they have a foot in the door, should be prepared to take any air time slot they are offered, even if it's six o'clock on a Sunday morning. This will give you the opportunity to tape yourself. You can constantly update your tape and use it for auditions for more critical time slots.
Another successful method is to take more than the one required college internship. If you can get involved in two or even three internships, you'll make more contacts and have a better chance of lining up full time employment when you graduate. At the same time you'll be adding to your portfolio and creating impressive specifics to include on your resume.
Personnel in the news department of radio and TV stations must keep on top of breaking news such as political events, natural disasters, and social issues. Weather and traffic reports are sometimes originated from this department as well.
News specialists must have good written and oral skills and be adept at interviewing people and conducting research.
Scriptwriters prepare copy for commercials, public service announcements, and for slots between programming. The number of openings in this area are small. The most active employers of scriptwriters are radio stations that program on air dramas and talk shows.
Multimedia is a catchall phrase that has come to mean a number of different things. It can be a multi image show; a sound enhanced slide presentation; an interactive CD ROM program with graphics and text; or the creative use of charts, graphs, video, and photography.
Multimedia career opportunities are prevalent in the corporate world, in business and industry, in health science, in government, as well as with religious organizations, independent media production companies, and advertising agencies and PR firms.
Multimedia is used at trade shows, in boardrooms, and classrooms and to impress stockholders and attract clients and customers. The jobs in this field that are of interest to communications majors include: AV (audiovisual) producer; AV writer; production assistant; AV manager/director.
The duties of these positions all revolve around the different phases of designing, researching, writing, producing, programming, scheduling, budgeting, and distributing multimedia presentations. All these jobs require similar backgrounds and training. A bachelors degree, specifically in mass communications, is a must, although related degrees in English or journalism will be considered. In addition to having good writing and organizational skills, some technical expertise in the use of equipment or photography is a plus.
Communications majors acquire skills that can be transferred to a number of related occupations. Here is a representative list of the job titles in a few similar career paths; no doubt further investigation will reveal more.