Journalism tips and tricks: getting a job, internship and more

Journalism tips for the internship-minded

Here are a few tips from Linda Shockley, the deputy director of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, on writing the perfect internship application essay:

  • Think about the topic and stay on it. You’ll likely be asked to describe yourself as a journalist. What are your journalistic values? Don’t veer off on a tangent about skiing. Use relevant anecdotes or examples to make your point.
  • Know yourself and your audience. Who are you? What’s important to you and why? What have you already done and would you like to do?
  • If it’s not your original thought, attribute it. When plagiarism shows up it usually brings big problems along.
  • If it’s trite, it’s not right. Whether you really believe you were born “with ink in your veins” or a “nose for news,” avoid these cliches like the plague.
  • When you are satisfied, print a final version. Make sure your name and relevant information are on each page. It sounds elementary but you’d be surprised how many candidates forget.

GPA and journalism

The truth about your grade point average: Most newspaper editors will never ask for it. Why not? Your grade point average is only one indicator of success and it is not as good an indicator of journalistic success as practical experience. While a good high school GPA might indicate how well you will do as an undergrad and a good undergrad GPA may tell us something about grad school, newsrooms are not classrooms. Editors use different criteria and indicators. Good grades can say that you’re intelligent or work hard, but the editors are looking in different places for signs of that, too.

Recruiters know that students talk to each other, and recruiters know that if they ask a couple students about their GPAs, students left and right will hear about it after the interview and some will start bailing out of activities—including journalism—to spend more time polishing their GPAs.

The rest of the newsroom:

This advice comes directly from my book Breaking In. It contains everything I know about landing and acing your journalism internship. I’ve been a journalist for a long time, and spent nearly 20 years recruiting and editing at the Detroit Free Press. For more tips and strategies for landing journalism internships and jobs, check out these resources:

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