International students looking to enter the journalism industry should be aware of two things: the good and the bad news about journalism jobs.
The bad news: the job market is tough. The economy is suffering and print journalism is on the decline. This is evident in every newsroom across the country. Readership is down, circulation is down, and journalists are hurting for jobs.
That being said, it doesn't mean the journalism industry is dying. But it is changing.
Now on to the good news: the Internet has (and still is) giving the industry new life and new jobs. So where previous graduates would have found jobs as newspaper reporters; current graduates might find jobs as bloggers, content writers, or reporters for online newspapers and magazines.
We are in hard economic times, but the journalism industry (and journalism jobs) will never disappear. There will always be news, there will always be a public eager to read the news, and there will always be work for those who write the news. Careers in journalism might be harder to get at the moment, but they are still out there.
International students searching for careers in journalism may want to consider a few things. A bachelor's degree is the average basic requirement. Common majors for journalists are of course journalism, but can also include communications, English literature, and creative writing. It's not necessary to major in journalism to find journalism jobs, but it is a benefit. Employers expect that a journalism graduate will know the basics of the job and need less training and supervision then a graduate from another major.
Employers will also want to see clips, or writing samples. These need to be translated into English if the originals are in another language. International students attending journalism school in the US should have plenty of opportunities to write for campus newspapers, magazines, radio stations or broadcast stations and a long stack of clips ready once it comes time to apply for jobs. This is also advantageous for job applicants from other majors—while not specifically educated in journalism, having clips from a school newspaper demonstrates some level of experience.
And experience is the magic word. Nothing helps graduates jumpstart careers in journalism than experience. Job applicants with work experience will be more appealing to employers. This may start in college at the school newspaper, but it's also important to seek out internships. Some journalism schools require their students to complete an internship in the field before graduation. If not, international students may want to find a summer internship (or if that's not an option) one that can be completed during the school year.
So what jobs can you expect to find? See below for information on just a few of the many careers in journalism:
- Foreign Correspondent for
a US News Organization
- In general, this won't be a journalist's first job out of college. It takes years of experience working for a news outlet in the US before being sent overseas, or years embedded in the country of choice working for local organizations before a US-based paper will take notice and hire someone. However, this is the journalism job where international students have the advantage. In this case, it's knowledge of a foreign language, understanding of another culture, and awareness of how the media works in that country. While the prerequisite experience is still necessary, these attributes will put you ahead of other job applicants.
- Reporters gather information and write for newspapers, magazines, radio, or TV. Recent graduates might start at small local papers writing for a specific beat (or topic).
- Copy Editor
- Copy editors edit copy, or the text of the article, for grammatical errors—such as punctuation and spelling, style, and factual errors. They can rewrite text to correct errors or improve passages that simply don't make sense. Those interested in this line of work should memorize common misspellings and study stylebooks like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook, which outline uniform writing standards within an organization. Applicants are often given a test on this material, and only those with good scores considered for the job.
- Photojournalists take pictures of breaking news, sporting events, community events, festivals, and more. They can be embedded in areas of conflict documenting times of war or work in a small community for a local newspaper. Work can be freelance, or full-time with benefits at a news media outlet. Training is increasingly available nowadays as universities have started to include majors and classes geared towards photojournalism in their curricula.
- Journalism Professor
- Interested in teaching the next generation of budding journalists? Journalism professors are responsible for teaching basic journalistic skills such as writing, reporting, editing, journalism history, ethics, and media law. Of all journalism jobs, this is the one that requires the most education, most commonly a master's or doctorate degree, and a hefty amount of experience.
Additionally, not all journalism graduates stay in traditional journalism careers. The skills graduates acquire in journalism school are also applicable in advertising, public relations, and publishing.