Here are my Top 5 tips on how to up your game as a student journalist:
1. Join BU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist (SPJ)
Shameless plug alert! Our chapter is still in its infancy, however our presence at COM continues to become more and more known. We host Q&A’s with local reporters and editors and even toured the Boston Globe building in November. If you become a national member of SPJ then you have the opportunity to flash a legit press card to prove that you’re a journalist and uphold your First Amendment rights. Look out for a BU SPJ table at “Splash” in September! Also follow us on Twitter @BUSPJ.
2. Clips Clips Clips
Do yourself a favor, and rack up those clips! The best way to do this is to start writing as soon as freshman year begins by applying to be a staff writer for a publication, such as The Quad (online blog/magazine). If you’re into broadcast journalism then get involved with BUTV10 and/or our radio station, WTBU. Photojournalists can join the Photo Club or apply to be a photographer for a publication. No need to look for an internship during your first semester of college, just start with the extracurriculars here at BU to build up experience.
3. Keep a personal blog
I must accredit this piece of advice to Courtney Hollands, the senior lifestyles editor at Boston Magazine and BU COM alum. At a recent BU SPJ Q&A, Courtney stressed that keeping a personal blog is key to developing a voice as a writer and expertise in subjects that interest you. During those times that your budding journalism career appears to be at a lull, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are frequently writing, and a blog is the easiest way. As a former Tumblr addict who only reblogged hipster-worthy photos, I am making it my summer project to create a blog that actually features…you guessed it, MY WRITING. So stay tuned to read about everything from album and movie reviews to issues in Israel and re-caps of breaking news.
4. Stay up on the news
I always say one of the perks of COM is that we get the Boston Globe and New York Times FREE everyday. By the way if you bring a copy of the newspaper to journalism class your professor will definitely notice, so take advantage of this privilege. Of course one of the best ways to constantly be on top of breaking news is by following a slew of news organizations on Twitter. If you have an iPhone then do yourself a favor and get the Associated Press app. It’s free and will send you alerts when important news breaks. The app also syncs up to local newspapers, such as the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, to give you local AP-wired stories.
5. Résumés…Le Sigh
I feel as though I’ve gotten so much advice on the do’s and don’t’s of résumés that when it comes time for me to update mine I end up staring at the screen in freak-out mode. My fellow e-board members of BU SPJ recently attended a journalism convention in New York and came back to BU with résumé tips from professional journalists. They learned that the first and most important section should be your related news experience, followed by work, education and miscellaneous/skills. They also learned that employers in the news business want to see that individuals are keeping themselves busy with other things other than reporting, so include your part-time job, hobbies and so on. Make sure to include your Twitter handle only if your tweets are appropriate and free of opinions. Also create an online résumé and/or LinkedIn to link-up to your online clips, personal blog, broadcast packages and best work done in your journalism classes.