With graduation approaching, journalism students increasingly find themselves thinking about creating their own portfolio. The harsh reality is that today’s job market is getting very competitive, especially when it comes to vacancies at popular media organizations where working conditions and financial remuneration tend to be well above the industry average (and that, surprisingly, applies to entry-level positions, too).
A significant number of students who fail to take the portfolio issue seriously enough end up learning the hard way. Some may have assumed that for as long as they ace their college course tests and exams all will be fine. However, when their job search begins in real earnest, they get the surprise of a lifetime when they discover that most vacancies require applicants to have a portfolio. Basically, they find themselves trapped in a classic catch-22 situation whereby they have to provide proof of work experience without actually having any.
In many entry-level openings, the requirement for a portfolio allows the applicant to showcase what they are capable of. Perhaps, more importantly, it can serve as a way of filtering through tons of candidates and coming up with a shortlist of the most suitable ones. Similarly, it becomes a strong signal conveying the applicant’s’ genuine interest in the job.
The simple lesson to learn here is that journalism students should start working on their portfolio as early as possible. You don’t have to wait until you get a chance to work in a professional setting/work environment – you can start writing on topics that interest you while pursuing your studies.
Below you’ll find some actionable ideas you can take advantage of before your job search begins. If executed properly, they will help you come up with a competitive resume and let you stand head and shoulders above other job seekers.
Write for Other Media Sites as an External Contributor or Guest Writer
One convenient way of proving yourself as a writer is to contribute to various media sites that publish content on topics you’re interested in. There is never a shortage of sites looking for new contributors. You should simply find resources that can let you unleash your writing potential. You can also explore custom writing services online if you would like to try your hand at creating academic papers for students. Freelance writing opportunities can help you earn some money while pursuing your college education, you just need to research on topics and start writing, keep your piece error-free with any grammar check tool to enhance your portfolio and get paid a handsome amount by writing for others.
The nature of your contribution can differ from site to site. In some cases, you may not get paid but that shouldn’t bother you. While pursuing this strategy, your primary goal should be to get as much high-quality exposure as possible. As you gradually increase your guest posts/contributions you can afford to reach out to bigger sites in your niche and write for them part-time. Getting exposure on big sites will immensely boost your portfolio.
Become an Active Student Journalist for Your College’s Student-Focused Media Outlets
There are few colleges that don’t have their own in-house publications. The Harvard Crimson, The Oxford Student, Yale Daily News – they are all student-run media outlets. Writing for suchlike organizations is an excellent opportunity for you to get some first-hand experience with student journalism.
As a student journalist, you should strive to improve your personal and professional skills. Explore work areas you may not have considered previously. Seek feedback not only from your fellow students but your professors as well. Show them some of your published media content. Think of it as a full-fledged job and not some fun experience. Remember – this can also be a major selling point of your CV when you apply for jobs after graduating from college. So take it seriously.
Actively Pursue Student Internships During Your College Years
In between the academic semesters, there will be weeks and months of holidays. Ordinarily, many students will be inclined to take a vacation, travel and have fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. That said, you should still learn to make some sacrifices for the sake of your career.
One of the things you can do is explore internship opportunities for journalism students. While the semester is ongoing, such opportunities will abound. You only have to be proactive and search for them on vacancies sites and LinkedIn. Apply to as many suitable ones as you can. Many may start and end over the summer holidays. Spending one or two summers as a student intern will not only help you get industry exposure and develop your skills but also expand your professional network. Ultimately, the ‘sacrifice’ will yield significant benefits when you begin your professional career.
Create Your Own Portfolio Website and Social Media Accounts
Creating your personal website is more practical when you already have some work you can showcase. But that’s not to say you can’t come up with one if you have few write-ups to boast of. You can always add more as you increase your content output over time. Also, be sure to create your social media profiles on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and link them to your site. In essence, your website should become a kind of a showroom where all your finest works are put on display. Even if you write for other sites, you can post some of your most widely-read pieces on your site.
The content will determine what kind of site you will come up with. If you’re entirely focused on writing, then it would make sense for you to create your own blog. If it’s a mix of video, audio, and text, a blog may also suffice. However, if you want to present your work as professionally as possible, you should go for something better than a simple blog site. Let’s take a look at some site creation platforms and tools you should consider using:
- WordPress: This is the most popular content management system and website creation platform in the world. You can create your site for free even without having your own domain name. But in order to present yourself in a professional manner, you’d be well-advised to purchase your own domain name. The premium package allows you to use your custom domain and do a lot of other exciting things. If you prefer to self-host, you should get a website hosting service where you can set up your WordPress site. Keep in mind, though, that custom designing your own WordPress site requires skills. You can make your job a lot easier by buying and installing custom WP themes.
- Medium: Being one of the most popular blogging platforms, Medium continues to gain popularity among writers. Thanks to its a minimalistic design, the platform allows registered members to write and publish all sorts of write-ups.
- Pressfolio: Designed for journalists and media professionals, this web platform lets you collect and organize your work in one central repository. It essentially becomes your online portfolio. The starting plan (Lite) costs 9.99 USD/month and allows you to post a maximum of 250 stories. By purchasing the premium plan, you get to add unlimited stories and use custom domain names. The PRO package will set you back 14.99 USD a month.
So, what’re you waiting for? Start applying our ideas today and leave all your job-related worries behind! You’ll be actually amazed how little time it will take for the above strategies to work and propel your career to new heights!