Initial Internship Advice and Summer Goals

As the job hunt season finally draws to a close looking towards the future becomes exciting again. Finally the dust has settled and the scary unknown is a bit more tangible.

For most college students summer signals the end of the academic year and the beginning of an internship. Personally, this will be my first internship in an official newsroom, not affiliated with the University of Missouri. I ended up securing an internship at WKOW, the ABC station in Madison, Wisconsin. Not only will it be my first official newsroom internship but it will be the first time I am going to work in television. I am looking forward to learning a new medium and I am nervous, but excited for the first day.

No matter the career path, the navigating the first day of an internship can be tricky. Unless you are very familiar with the job environment there will be hurdles to picking up the unique culture and the rhythm to the operation. This week, four graduated convergence journalists Skyped into our class to pass along some wisdom and internship advice. Here are some of their main points:

  1. On your first day, remember you have help. The world isn’t going to end if you don’t know how to do something.
  2. Ask questions and take notes. There is nothing wrong with inquiring about certain tasks or ways to do things around the office, but make sure you take notes. You don’t want to be caught in a situation three weeks in and not feel as though you can ask.
  3. Grab coffee with your coworkers and ask for career advice

I was helpful to hear from them and I will take the advice with me as I navigate two internships before coming back to Mizzou. After my internship in the summer, I will be traveling to Belgium and working as an intern in a newsroom in Brussels.

As a throwback to my first blog, write down your goals and make them known, here are my goals for this summer:

  1. Learn to tell impactful, well rounded pieces of television journalism
  2. Make meaningful connection and learn from my coworkers
  3. Continue to develop my photography and videography skills
  4. Spend some time outside
  5. Begin reading for pleasure again
  6. Rediscover hobbies I set aside this school year
  7. Learn basic French
  8. Plan for study abroad.
  9. Get back on the water

As excited as I am for my internships, I am also excited to get back on the water. Finding and maintaining a good balance of work and play is important. So when you find something you love, keep at it.

Lake Nagawicka from Rosie Belson on Vimeo.

Lake Superior from Rosie Belson on Vimeo.

What goals do you hope to accomplish this summer?

Mindfulness in Law Critique

Link: https://j4502-ss17.github.io/MILS/

For this critique, I started off by trying to find information about who is running the group and how I could join. I easily found the directory and navigating to the board of directors was intuitive. Perhaps there could be a small paragraph, under the initial tabs, differentiating the roles of the board of directors and the board of advisors. The cards were easy to view on both the mobile and desktop versions. Again, this is a content critique, but some more biographical content or even contact information may be nice under each card. Finding information about memberships was also intuitive, especially since the navigation bar is located on the top of each page.

 

Next, I looked at site’s style and general design on desktop and mobile platforms:

 

Overall, the site is well designed and aesthetically pleasing. There is a lot of content but it isn’t overwhelming. The navigation bar and hero image at the top of each page helps create this calming aesthetic, however, I appreciate that there is additional content visible under the image without a necessary scroll. As a suggestion, instead of an anchor tag to create a partial jump down the page to accentuate the different pages. Perhaps use different cover images for each category of page. This way the jump doesn’t look somewhat like a glitch and the pages are still accentuated and differentiated.

 

The site’s colors are very earthy and calming. The colors coordinate well with the title image. There is enough contrast that the white is readable on the green background and the light green highlight. The one color that is slightly less readable is the cantaloupe-colored links. It is readable on the beige platform however, there isn’t enough contrast when the color is directly applied to the dark green background. Perhaps making the font bold would help create contrast.

 

My final suggestions have to do specifically with the mobile site. I like the hero image element on mobile version as well. It helps give the user a consistent experience across all platforms. However, the image does take up a lot of space on the mobile platform. Perhaps, try to reduce the size of the image if possible to ensure the content underneath is seen.This is a minor suggestion, but perhaps make the background for the drop-down menu dark green and the lines white to be consistent with the desktop navigation bar. Also, perhaps move the arrow element to the end of the buttons so they don’t crowd the text.

 

I hope some of the suggestions were helpful! Overall, I think the group did a wonderful job designing the website. It is intuitive, clean and aesthetically pleasing.

Lessons in Leadership

As a leader, recreationally or professionally) sometimes things go wrong, and that is okay.

This past semester I was president of a club I have been apart of since I came to Mizzou. I enjoyed my other positions of leadership within the club and overall the team had been pretty solid. As the seasons have gone on, obvious institutional problems started to appear and due to a myriad of reasons they never got addressed and mended. Instead, the club got passed along, becoming weaker and weaker… until it fell apart.

Inheriting a mess of a situation isn’t ideal. But it is something that most leaders will encounter in the workplace. At the beginning of the semester, the class of convergence project managers were taught how to be a good leader. While some lessons were specific to the field, I want to share the more universal tips:

  1. Listen and communicate
    1. Layout initial protocols and specific expectations that lead to tangible goals. A good leader knows each of the team members on an individual basis and has an open line of communication. Listen to their concerns, ideas or problems. Respond with respect and in a way that helps them sharpen and focus their ideas on their own.
  2. Delegate but don’t dictate
    1. Having faith in your team to carry out tasks is the key to success. A task was assigned to a team because one person couldn’t accomplish it on his or her own… so stop trying to do it all yourself. Each member of your team has certain strengths that make them an asset. The quicker you learn to employ their strengths the more efficient the team will be. However, keep in mind what motivates them and make sure it is still a positive working environment.
  3. Don’t choke out potential
    1. This goes hand in hand with the last point. Make sure your team knows what they are doing but then get out of the way. By forcing your team to do things your way, you are reducing the potential for creativity and innovation.
  4. Be okay with failing
    1. Not everything will be a success but what makes a failure successful is growth. When something goes wrong take a moment, gather the team, and dissect the situation – positively. The more they can learn from the situation, the better off the team will be and the less of a chance that this exact failure will happen again.  

So, as you can imagine, it didn’t feel too great when the team finally fell apart under my leadership. Initially there was a lot of self blame, disappointment and general anger. However, I came to realize that I could attempt to pull together something up until a point but in the end, keeping a team afloat can’t be up to just one person. Or, as it was phrased to the convergence project managers, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.
Realizing that something isn’t going to work out the way you wanted it to is hard absorb. But, take solace in the fact that you tried your best and learn from the situation.

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Get up and Go

I am a huge proponent of adventures, no matter the size. But too often I am talked out of going – too little time, to expensive or too many responsibilities. However, sometimes I just have to get up and go.

This weekend I went to Washington D.C. to celebrate Easter with my family. I ended up leaving after work Friday afternoon and got into Reagan International just shy of midnight. I spent two nights and was back in Columbia just before Sunday made way for Monday. It sounds ridiculous to go all that way to spend less than 48 hours with my family but sometimes you just have to go.

I genuinely believe in keeping traditions. There is something special about keeping up with family, knowing you will see them every year no matter where life takes you. My family is spread across the country and seeing them isn’t very easy, especially now that the grandchild generation is spreading ourselves further across the country. But, that is precisely why keeping traditions is so important.

Was it practical that we all got on a flight and made our way to a central point in D.C.?  No.

But sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and just go.
To whoever comes across this post, I challenge you do do something slightly impractical. Even if the only purpose is to make you happy.

Aim for Interesting Interviews

Interviews can be nerve wracking. Nobody can deny that meeting someone for the first time in a high pressure environment while you are trying to walk a tight line:  sounding intelligible yet brief, highlighting your accomplishments but being humble, showing personality yet being polite and professional. It’s tough.

But instead of thinking of the interview as an excuse for scrutiny, perhaps think of it as a chance to show yourself off.

I won’t pretend to be perfect. I still get butterflies before walking into the interview location or dialing the numbers of the interview conductor. But thinking of the interview as an opportunity to showcase your off-paper traits helped me to become less nervous.

Growing up, I used to be told I was memorable and I took it as an insult… or at least a slight. No preteen wants to be told they stand out when all they want to do is fit in. Even though it was just a few insignificant memories from a long time ago, I still think of that every time I go into an interview. Now, I make it my  goal to be memorable, to create a positive impression on the interviewee.

I know it may sound basic, everyone is trying to make a good impression, but actually making it a tangible goal helps me focus my interview. Often there are little cues you can pick up on during an interview to know if you are doing a good job and making a positive impression. Watching for the cues during the interview helps build confidence and release nerves.

Here are a few tips to shake the nerves and be prepared to make an impression

  1. Be confident.
    1. People want to hire someone that is self-assured and confidence is one way to show you are ready to tackle this job. If you aren’t confident to the core – fake it. No one has to know.
  2. Genuinely want to be there.
    1. It’s easy to detect if someone doesn’t truly want to be there and not showing interest can destroy your chances of obtaining the job offer. If you went through the trouble to apply for the job, you must want it. An interview isn’t the most exciting thing but think of it as the gateway to the job and that is something to be genuinely excited about.
  3. Be prepared
    1. Go into the interview with talking point and rehearsed answers. This will help you look prepared and intelligent. However, make sure you don’t over utilize the prepared answers. The goal is to create genuine conversation and if you are prepared you can organically sprinkle in stories to highlight your capability.
  4. Every question is an opportunity for a story.
    1. This point goes along with the previous advice. Each question is aimed to uncover something unique about you as a candidate. Answer the question directly and then show them through a quick story. Examples are more relatable and make you memorable.
  5. Aim for the interviewer to have a good experience too
    1. Don’t go into the interview entirely focused on yourself. Remember that interviewers probably do this all the time and making a good impression requires making a subconscious connection. People remember people that make them happy or peak their interest. By transitioning the interview into a genuine conversation and showing a bit of personality (professionally) you can insure that they will have a pleasant experience as well.

If you aren’t naturally confident, you can try improving your body language. Amy Cuddy, a social physiologist gave a TED Talk on how power posing can help you imitate confidence.

Application Pep Talk

It is that time of year. Spring? No. Well yes…  But I was thinking of application season. Though both seasons promise new beginnings, new opportunities, internship-application season isn’t nearly as beautiful as spring. The road to employment isn’t lined with flowers, it’s a gridlock of applications, cover letters and interviews.  

If you are anything like me, you look around at the people in your program and instantly feel mediocre. You begin questioning if you are qualified for the job and soon your interior monologue lapses into resonating doubts that you are even deserve to submit the application. It happens time and time again. You find an amazing opportunity and you talk yourself out of it before you even apply.

It’s not easy slipping into that thought pattern and you may feel like you are the only one doing so. But believe it or not, your peers applying for the same applications are probably feeling the same way you are.

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by talented and driven peers within the convergence program at Mizzou. Each one of them are highly capable journalists and have an immense amount of potential and it is so wonderful to see them harnessing their potential.

Though you cheer on your peers, it’s easy to feel as though you are the only one not moving forward. But you know what? You too are standing there with them. You have earned your space. You may have different skills and experiences but a job doesn’t need to be done one certain way, it can be done a myriad of ways and your method can be just as successful. You have unique experiences that no one else has and for that, you too deserve to throw your name in the running.

So, for the person facing down a blank application unsure if it is worth it to apply. Try this exercise:

  • The first resume you make, don’t make it with anyone else in mind.
    •  *Do this even if you already have one crafted. I found this helpful to do before tailoring your resume for a specific application.
  • Think over your career and list the skills you generated -don’t worry about formatting or restraining it to one page.
  • List all of your roles and general experiences
  • List your specific responsibilities
  • Finally, list what you learned
  • Once you are done take some time and look at it. Genuinely look. Take the moment and be impressed at everything you accomplished.
  • Harness that feeling of pride and use it as motivation when you go back and revise your resume.

We tried a version of this in my Online Audience Development class where everyone went around the room and named a skill they possessed. We put it all up on the whiteboard.

Image uploaded from iOS

If you take away one thing from this little pep talk, please remember that though you may not have every skill someone has, but they don’t have the skills and experience you have. Take pride in being you.

Navigating the past

Knowing where you come from can help guide the path to where you are going. – Even if you don’t know where that is yet.

Changing jobs, hobbies or even lifestyles is normal. The average person experiences four job changes by the time they are 32, according to CNN Money. But too often we leave behind aspects of our past experiences when we make the transition. It’s easy to leave behind hobbies and people. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you contacted someone from high school. It’s been a long time, right?

It’s easy to cut ties during transition. It’s much harder packing learned experiences into a proverbial backpack and traveling through life with it on your back.

However, it may be advantageous to carry extra baggage.

As a journalist, we attempt to relate to our subjects. Often, we find ourselves parachuting into the middle of a story attempting to make meaningful connections. The quality of a story often depends on how well we can tell our subject’s story.

It’s beneficial to have a wide range of life experiences so that you can reach into your proverbial backpack and pull out a relatable experience. Being able to relate on a basic level forms a foundation of trust that can be built upon.  

However, it isn’t always easy carrying around experiences. Some you want to actively forget and some happened so long ago that they are hard to remember. Taking time to celebrate your past helps remind you of these experiences and helps you navigate your next moves.

St. Patrick’s Day is an annual celebration of both my heritage and previous experiences. It reminds me to take some time to reflect on where I have been and often it gives me perspective on where I am going.

When I was very young, about four or five, I remember attending St. Patrick’s Day mass at Marquette University. Both my parents are Marquette alums – they met there and they both knew Father Naus, the priest who led St. Patrick’s Day mass. He was a clown in his spare time and at every mass he would give each child a balloon. If the child’s parents couldn’t blow the balloon up by midnight, the child could stay up all night.

While this was a great tradition, I remember seeing these Irish dancers in sparkly, ornate dresses and hypnotizing curls. I wanted to be one of them so bad that at the ripe age of five, I convinced my parents to sign me up for Irish Dance lessons. I ended up dancing until I was in sixth grade.

Admittedly, I was not great. Looking back, younger me wasn’t willing to put in the practice time to become a good dancer. Although it wasn’t ultimately for me, it is still a part of me. I enjoy celebrating and love going to a St. Patrick’s Day parade and seeing the dancers in their dresses and wigs dancing without using their arms.

Friedman’s Freelancing Masterclass

To become a freelancer takes self confidence, self motivation and self accountability. Basically, it’s all up to you. Which can be intimidating and liberating.

Ann Friedman is a successful freelance writer, podcast creator and chart maker. She is also an alumni of the Missouri School of Journalism. Last week she came to campus, on behalf of Mizzou ONA to give a speech, attend a few classes and conduct a master class on freelancing.

I was lucky enough to attend the masterclass and want to share a few of her tips to becoming (and continuing to be) a successful freelance journalist.

  1. Pitch to a human

As journalists, we are supposed to be able to find information and people. If you can’t find an editor’s contact information, it doesn’t reflect well on your research skills. Occasionally there is a submissions email available on an outlet’s website. However, sending your well crafted pitch into the void without knowing there is a human being on the other end to receive your work is a waste of time. If you are having a hard time finding the exact editor, reach out to the editor with the closest fit. Even if it isn’t correct, it’s still a start.

 

  1. Tailor the pitch to the publication

Think about the publication’s audience when crafting your pitch. Remember that the editor is your ultimate client. Friedman said that often freelance pieces are picked up to solve a content problem for the editor. If you pitch is well tailored and specific to the publication, you are indicating to the editor that you consume their product and know the audience well enough to produce a piece that will fit well within the publication.

 

  1. Have clips that prove you can do it

This step is obvious, but necessary. An editor picks up a freelanced piece to solve a problem and they don’t have time to babysit the outside journalist. They need to know you have done a successful pieces before and that you will produce a quality piece.

 

  1. Include a news hook

Just like other pieces of journalism, they need to have a “Why now?” factor. Editors won’t pick up a piece if it isn’t newsworthy, timely or interesting. Figuring out the pitch’s news hook will help dictate the tone and timeline of the piece.

 

  1. Impose a timeline and keep track

When you reach out to a publication to pitch a story, impose a timeline by blatantly saying that you need to hear back by a certain date. This way you can pitch to multiple publications and your time researched doesn’t go to waste. Once you have a story, keep track of your progress in a spreadsheet. Friedman uses an excel spreadsheet to track the story from inception through receiving the invoice. It helps her keep herself and others accountable.

Interests change – and so do you.

Audio was once described to me as an immensely intimate medium. An idea can be transferred from mouth to ear without much of an outside influence. It is like you are sitting in a room, witnessing a conversation, a bystander in the story, yet it is intensely personal.

Audio storytelling has the power to place the audience in a story simply by creating the sounds of an environment. A well told story can make listeners forget whatever task they are doing and become engrossed.

It pulls the audience in and they feel personally connected to the story, like they personally know the show’s host.

That’s how I felt with the podcast Call Your Girlfriend. It was the first show in the medium that allowed me, as a listener, to become engrossed. I had been listening to the radio for as long as I can remember. The local radio station, WKLH is a staple in the house and listening to the morning radio program, Dave and Carole in the Morning, was habitual. However, that type of radio isn’t the same as podcasts or audio storytelling.

daveandcaroleIt is really interesting to see how passions change and evolve over the years. Like I mentioned, I have grown up loving radio. To the point that my sister and I would listen to the Dave and Carole in the Morning “Best Of” CDs in our room at night. For years we would fall asleep to the rotation of CDs. We got to the point where we could fully recite the comedy routines. Over the years that radio show has transitioned and so have I.

Call Your Girlfriend acted as a bridge from radio entertainment programing to podcasts. The show has a more conversational tone. The two hosts, Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, talk rather informally about current events, topics in the media and what is going on with their lives.170x170bb

Friedman, a Mizzou Journalism alum, came to campus this past week on behalf of Mizzou Online News Association, ONA. Not only was I super excited to hear her speak, but she also came into my online audience development class and I was fortunate enough to take a masterclass with her on freelancing. [To hear more about freelancing, check out next week’s post.]

I was so excited to meet her, but also kind of nervous. One downfall to audio storytelling is that there is a lack of visual communication. You don’t see the storyteller like you would in a video. So I was very curious to see her and interact with her in real life.
Let me tell you now, it was great.

True/False Lessons

Self improvement doesn’t need to be encapsulated in a traditional sense. You can improve yourself by being exposed to new ideas, taking part in a different event or even being inspired by another person’s creation.

It was True/False weekend in Columbia, Mo. The four days are chalk full of documentaries that provoke thought, empathy and inspiration.

This year I went to see Brimstone & Glory, a film about fireworks in Tultepec, Mexico. Firework production is a means for living for the people in Tultepec but it also is a way of life. In a celebration of their craft and sacrifice for the patron saint of pyrotechnics, the city has two days where they light off castles and bulls for San Juan de Dios.

Source: Brimstone & Glory

Unlike other documentaries I have seen, I went into the movie thinking I was going to sit back and enjoy a movie without learning a lot of new information because fireworks are a passion of mine. However, I was wrong.

Yes, the documentary was visually stunning, but it was also informational and expanding. But I think inspiration was the biggest thing I took away from the film. The camera work and the large array of shots was truly impressive. As someone who is learning to work with video, I found myself watching the film with a critical eye to learn how they sequenced certain moments or what decisions they made and how they could have done things differently.