You’ve just graduated with a Media Studies/Communications/English degree. You’ve subscribed to every existing job notification platform, and habitually scroll through Gumtree ads. In some of your weaker moments you’ve even clicked on a couple of misspelled ads.
Whether you want to become a hard-hitting political journalist, radio presenter, magazine features writer or a news anchor, one thing is certain: breaking into the highly competitive media industry is the most difficult part.
So, here are eight tips from women who have been-there-done-that, got the job title and have managed to make it.
Getting a foot in the door
Don’t be too picky, at first
Women’s Health editor Danielle Weakley says when it comes to getting into the media industry it’s a good idea to take whatever comes your way.
‘A foot in the door is the very best experience and the fastest way to learn, get a sense of which position you’d actually want in the industry and how best to apply for it in terms of honing your skills appropriately. Plus, if you’re already on the inside and impressing somebody, you’re bound to hear of opportunities first.’
Do your research
Marie Claire’s deputy editor Lynette Botha offers some sound advice on how to get the job. She says: ‘Before applying for a job at a magazine or pitching a freelance article, do your research – make sure you know the brand; read at least three issues and pitch accordingly. Don’t “spray and pray” the same pitch to several magazines.’
Be a jack of all trades
With today’s shrinking newsrooms and diminishing editorial teams, it’s a good idea to work on your skill set. The more you can do, the more employable you are. Danielle says: ‘Offer a multi-media skill set that shows you’re comfortable across print, digital, social and video,’ she says.
Once you’ve landed the (or a) job
Confidence is key
Monique Morlock, 2017’s Vodacom Young Journalist Award winner, says it’s important to be bold and put yourself out there. ‘It’s easy to play it safe and downplay one’s talents or abilities in spaces that are dominated by louder or intimidating voices, but I’ve learned this doesn’t do anyone any favours.’
Once you’ve landed an internship or a junior position you’ll want to impress your employers. The easiest way to do this, Danielle says, is to do your homework. ‘Make sure you’ve read the mag, been online, followed all the social channels and you’re engaged with the content. Know what’s going on so that if you’re asked to pitch an idea, it’s relevant and newsworthy.’
Make yourself indispensable
‘It’s easy to say “that’s not my job”,’ says Lynette. ‘It’s easy to leave filling the printer paper tray for someone else; it’s easy to not work after hours because it’s not in your contract – but that’s not how you stand out. No one is doing you a favour. You need to work hard,’ she says.
When you’re on the verge of giving up
Work on your social media accounts
Danielle has suggestions for those who feel they have exhausted all channels and have still not managed to land an internship/job. She says, ‘If you’re not lucky enough to get an internship of any description, then take the time to fine tune your social media accounts. The first thing I would do if you applied for a job would be to check out all your handles… So know this, and make them do their best work for you!’
Aim for a digital byline
Always wanted your byline printed in a newspaper or magazine but can’t seem to get published? Danielle says it’s worth trying to get published online as a way in. ‘With the speed of content production being what it is in this brave new world, you’re far more likely to score an intro writing for digital, so if you’re pitching ideas for a possible foot in the door, pitch relevant, cool digital ideas to the digital editor as a next step,’ she adds.
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