Each year, hundreds of young people attend their first National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair.
Many are looking for jobs or internships and this is, by far, the best place to find both. But, in my twenty years as a mentor for young people, I’ve seen them make mistakes that can cost them opportunities. This has prompted me to share some things that others (Louise Ritchie) have shared before. Tips 1-9 apply to all students and young journalists. #10 is specific to those interested in working in print or online media. Because the industry has changed, you should be comfortable working in all platforms. You may find yourself writing for the newspaper, taking photos and video and posting to the web. There are tips for aspiring broadcasters but they, too, should be able to work in digital media.
NABJ, VP Broadcast
RESUMES should be one-page. They should include relevant journalism or communications experience and links to your social media pages or resume reel (you’ll see why in a few). Make sure your name and contact information is in bold at the top of the page.
Cover Letters should also be one page and should quickly tell the reader who you are, what you have accomplished and what you want to do. Since this is a career fair, your cover letter can be general. But, if you are applying for a specific job, your cover letter should explain why your are uniquely qualified for that position.
RESEARCH You can find the list of companies that are recruiting here. Take a few minutes and check these companies’ corporate “career” pages. It helps to know what jobs these companies are trying to fill.
1. Have a positive attitude. You never know if the person to whom you’re complaining about the lousy food is not only the NABJ member who spent hours of free time helping to plan the convention, but also is a recruiter on the lookout for an entry-level hire or intern.
2. Be gregarious. Some good conversation openers include saying things such as, “Have you been to other NABJ conventions?” (A good follow-up to a “yes” could be to ask the person’s advice about how you can get the most out of this one.)
3. APPEARANCE/BEHAVIOR: The type of attention you attract is based on your professional look. Remember that even parties at conventions are professional situations. Have fun, but have fun without telling the intimate secrets of your life or without becoming an intimate secret in someone else’s life! Especially on Saturday night!
MEN: NO SAGGING. T-shirts celebrating booze, sex or drugs, the “n” word, etc., definitely will attract attention but not the kind that will lead to a job or intern ship. Leave that attire at home. Don’t even wear it to convention parties.
WOMEN: Deep cleavage, mini and micro skirts, T-shirts celebrating booze, sex or drugs etc., definitely will attract attention, but unless you’re at the convention looking for quick sex or a “reputation,” leave that attire at home. Don’t even wear it to convention parties.
4. Talk to everyone. This includes talking to attendees who may be several decades older than you. Instead of clustering with your classmates at meals, make a point of sitting with people whom you don’t know. Your schoolmates can’t hire you or give you an internship. When you select a seat, walk around the table, shake everyone’s hand and introduce yourself to them.
5. Know that many people — including veteran journalists — are shy (It’s amazing how many journalists are tigers when they’re pursuing stories, but in their personal lives they are quiet and shy!) so are very happy when you take time to reach out to them. Some people who especially may be appreciative are families of attendees and recruiters who are not black and who may not have had previous experience attending a gathering in which they are the racial minority. You also can get some valuable tips and information from such people, including members’ families, who often have lots of inside knowledge about the field and may even have journalism experience, too.
6. Attend the workshops and, when you go, sit up front and be prepared to ask questions. When you ask questions, stand up and say your name and your school or affiliation. Students have been known to get job offers and internship offers by asking thoughtful questions at workshops.
7. Seek out opportunities to get feedback. Ask recruiters and veterans to critique your work. When they do so, don’t argue with them. If you don’t agree with their assessment, then you don’t have to follow their advice. But if you start arguing with them, you will get a reputation as a person who is not interested in learning and that can prevent your obtaining a job or internship. People who are hired as entry-level employees and interns are expected to grow and learn as part of the job. For that reason, many employers will choose a student who is eager to learn over a more experienced student who is a know-it-all.
8. In interviews, make sure that you highlight the excellent things you’ve done in journalism. Explain how you got the reticent source to talk. Describe how you did a tough story on a tight deadline while you were also editing copy. Don’t wait for the interviewer to directly ask you about these things. The recruiter cannot read your mind. In addition, an interview is not a modesty test. You easily can highlight your strengths by, when you are showing your clips, also telling the story behind your clips. “When my editor assigned me this story, he said that he chose me because I handled deadlines better than the other interns. I got the story at 7 and by 9, my editor had it on his/her desk.”
9. Be prepared for a current events quiz. With technology bringing news to your cell phone there is no excuse for not knowing the news of the day.
10. Prepare packets of your resume, cover letter and clips. Put them in separate envelopes to give to recruiters. That way, when the recruiter packs the stacks of resumes and clips s/he has received and piles them into a suitcase, yours won’t become wrinkled. Never give away your last package. Create a file that includes your resume, cover letter and clips and email it to yourself each morning. You can show the recruiter your clips, then email them the file at the end of the interview. (This is a great way to get contact information for potential mentors and hiring managers.)
NOW THE DON’TS
1. DON’T huddle with your classmates like a sheep. Among the no-nos are sitting only with other students or your friends from school or waiting for your roommate to get up the morning so that you can go to the convention together. Don’t let them make you late. Your classmates may be your BFF’s but they can’t hire you or give you an internship.
2. DON’T get up and leave if you realize that you’ve sat at a table with veterans or recruiters. Often such people are very happy to meet aspiring young journalists and are really insulted if you jump up and abandon them. This particularly may be true with recruiters who literally are there to connect with potential hires such as you. You’ll be embarrassed if that same person you didn’t want to sit with is the one at the career fair interviewing for the job you want.
3. DON’T be on the prowl for a date.
4. DON’T sit in the back of the room at workshops. The days of back of the bus are long over.
5. DON’T go on the prowl for free drinks and free meals. Well… I’ll amend this to say don’t go on the prowl by yourself. I have not met a journalist yet who will turn down a free drink or food when not working.
6. DON’T spend your time telling recruiters what you DON’T want to do. The phrase “I don’t want to…” will turn recruiters off. Spend your time telling and showing recruiters what you can do for them.
7. DON’T tell a recruiter that you have no clips/reel because the people in your student media were mean or cliquish. Recruiters know that if you couldn’t make it at your campus media, you definitely aren’t ready for the outside world. While the recruiter may nod his or head sympathetically, that person is mentally crossing you off their list of good candidates.
8. DON’T decide that the job fair is a waste of time because recruiters say they have no open jobs now or they have no internships available for this summer. Typically, summers are when there is turnover on jobs, so recruiters are now taking applications for openings that are expected later. If you blow off the interview or stop interviewing, what can happen is that when the jobs open up, your name isn’t in the pool. Even if you’re looking for an internship this fall, it can be important to interview because while most internships already have been filled. But often there are last-minute openings, and the students whom the recruiters know are available are the ones contacted.
9. DON’T run around loudly telling your friends and associates how “mean” certain recruiters were. This is a small business. The new friend whom you’re sharing this information with may end up being the recruiter’s spouse or best friend.
10. Don’t use an email address that is inappropriate. Sexygirl90@aol.com or bigboy24@yahoo may have been cute in high school but they are not professional.
11. Clean up your social media pages. Potential employers check those… closely. When someone asks me to mentor them, the first thing I do is Google them and see what’s on their FB page. If your page is dedicated to partying or getting blasted, I won’t be calling.
–Louise Ritchie/Bob Butler
AND NOW FOR ASPIRING BROADCASTERS:
— Bring PLENTY of resumes and business cards. Make sure your resume is ONE PAGE and includes links to your social media pages and your resume reel. The employer doesn’t need to know all the details of every job you’ve had. If it’s not related to journalism just put down what it was. Example: Taco Bell, June 2002 to September 2003. Oh, and make sure your name is in LARGE TYPE AND BOLD FACE. When I’m trying to find your resume, I may not look too hard. So make it easy for me to find you.
– Reporter Resume Reel: Your first job will 95% be as a “one man band” reporter. You will be shooting and editing your own packages. Start your resume reel with two stand-ups and two walk-and-talks then go directly to your first package, preferably from something on your montage. Shoot your stand-ups yourself, if at all possible. When I see a standup where the camera is zooming and/or panning, it tells me you did not shoot that yourself. I want to see what I can expect if I send you out to do a story. Also, put your slate at the end and drop the bells and whistles. If I’m interested in you, I don’t want to wait through a heavily produced slate to get your contact information.
–PRODUCERS: Your reel should be the first three blocks of your show, including the open, teases and transitions. Telescope the spot breaks (if you have them) or live shots.
–REPORTERS/PRODUCERS: Load your reel on Youtube’s “unlisted” channel. Type the url on your resume and bring 50 copies to the convention. Email that document to yourself each morning so it stays near the top of the email on your phone.
–REPORTERS/PRODUCERS: Make 13 DVD’s of your reel. Buy a dozen 8 ½ x 11 envelopes. Put a DVD and resume in each envelope. Write your name, address, phone number and email address on the front. Use DVD #13 to show at the job fair. If a recruiters ask if they can keep it, pull out an envelope and give that to them. If you give away all of your envelopes you can still show #13 and email the recruiter the resume. You can also show the recruiter your reel from your laptop.
–SMART PHONES: Before you head out to the career fair, email your resume and link to yourself. Save the document on your phone if you can. If you run out of copies, you can ask for the recruiter’s email address and forward it to them on the spot. This is a good way to get contact information for potential mentors and/or hiring managers.
– REPORTERS: Be realistic when lining up at the network (ABC, CBS, ESPN, etc) booths. Their recruiters can offer great advice but their stations are generally located in top 50 markets where they won’t consider hiring you until you have 5 years paid experience. Consider companies that have stations located in DMA 100-210. For example Lin Media has 16 stations, 4 of them are located in markets 107 – 188, where you can be hired right out of college. Also Raycom Media operates 53 television stations in 36 markets and 18 states. More than a dozen are located in DMA 100+. Both companies, as well as Time Warner Cable will be recruiting in the career fair.
–Collect business cards. After each encounter take minute and write some notes on the back of the card. Example: “Tall brother with a blue suit, and red tie” or “lady with really pretty earrings. She said they had an opening in Fort Wayne” or “He liked my tape but said I need to slow my delivery.” When you get home (or see ‘Smart Phone’) send an email thanking them for talking to you, maybe comment on the tie or the earrings. And attach your resume. They’ll probably see a hundred people. It’s not uncommon for resumes to be misplaced. You’re ahead of the game because the link to your work is already there.
–Don’t rule out working as a producer. One news director told me, “I can shake a tree and 12 reporters and anchors will fall out. But a good producer is hard to find.” These jobs lead you into newsroom management, where the real power and control lie. And don’t be surprised if, while you’re waiting in line at the network booth, producer candidates go to the front. There is a critical shortage of people of color who want to be producers.
This has got to stop.
When I heard about the shooting at the school in Connecticut it hit me like a punch in the solar plexus. It brought me back to one of the few times this job as a journalist brought me to tears.
It was January 17, 1989. A man named Patrick Purdy had opened fire with an assault rifle on children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California.
After shooting more than 100 rounds, five students lay dead, another 29 students and a teacher were wounded and Purdy shot himself in the head.
I was working on the editor’s desk at KCBS that day. We sent reporter Diane Kalas to the scene and she went on the air to describe children at recess having to run for their lives as Purdy sprayed gunfire at them.
She had a sound bite of an eight-year old student saying her best friend was shot down as they ran for safety.
At the time my son was 8-years-old. I was talking to Diane after her live shot and she explained the little girl has said she could hear her friend saying, “ouch, ouch,” before she went quiet. She decided not to use that sound in her report because it was so graphic.
I began to think about my own son and, at that point I lost it. I couldn’t bear the thought of my son being the victim of such violence.
As journalists we all have to ignore these tragedies in order to cover them. But there is no way to ignore senseless violence when it targets innocent children.
You can’t blame today’s shooting on guns, the NRA, the Democrats or the Republicans. They didn’t do this.
The real tragedy is that this will probably not be the last time this happens. And we’ll shake our heads and cover the story.
This has got to stop.
Now that the boards of SAG and AFTRA have approved the merger agreement, the future of our unions is in our — the members — hands.
I was an alternate on the G-1, the group for one union that crafted the merger agreement, the constitution and the governance and dues structures.
Think of the G-1 as the inner circle that actually voted. The alternates sat in the outer ring, but were members of the various working groups. Many of us ended up at the G-1 table, especially at the end of the 9-day meeting in Los Angeles early in the morning of January 16th.
Since then many people have asked if voting yes will guarantee them more work, better wages and improved working conditions.
As you may know I am a reporter. Those questions about guarantees reminded me of a story I recently wrote in New Orleans about what happened to some homeowners after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
I had met Kisa Holmes, who had bought her home 6 weeks before Katrina and never made her first mortgage payment before she, her husband and five children were flooded out (http://thelensnola.org/2011/12/23/kisa-holmes-six-years-later/). Her bank convinced her to use her insurance money to pay off the mortgage. Bureaucratic red tape prevented her from ever getting her house fixed and the family has basically been homeless since.
The house was demolished right before Christmas. (http://thelensnola.tumblr.com/post/15529292127/update-frustrated-homeowner-resorts-to-demolition)
Holmes had fought so many battles trying to get back home that she was reluctant to recount the emotional pain of the previous six years.
I told her I could not guarantee that telling her story would help but I could guarantee NOTHING would change if she did not allow me to explain what happened. Telling her story would at least give her a chance at changing her circumstances.
In the end the story was published and the founder of the St. Bernard Project (http://www.stbernardproject.org/), a non-profit organization that repairs hurricane-damaged homes, read it. The project is now working with Kisa Holmes to either build a new house or move her into another house that the organization has repaired.
The same can be said for members of SAG and AFTRA only this is a lot better than taking a chance.
In 2003 we were told that the industry would continue to consolidate and it would be tougher for actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers and recording artists to achieve fair contracts.
Does anyone working today care to dispute that?
Together we can use our collective might and talents to make it easier to make a living.
One union of 150,000 members could negotiate better health plan rates than two separate organizations.
Voting yes gives us makes it easier to get more work, better wages and improved working conditions.
Voting no guarantees that things will remain the same: producers will try and play one union off against the other and many actors will continue to struggle to qualify for health benefits and pension credits.
Bob Butler is a reporter at KCBS radio in San Francisco, a freelance investigative reporter, a vice president on the AFTRA national board and AFTRA’s national EEO committee chair.
Oakland, CA — Both defendants charged in the murders of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men were sentenced to life without parole. Yusuf Bey IV, the former CEO of Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland, was given 3 consecutive life sentences for ordering the murders of Chauncey Bailey, Michael Wills and Odell Roberson. Co- defendant Antoine Mackey was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life without parole.
Robin Hardin-Bailey, the journalist’s ex-wife, addressed the court — and the defendants.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think Chauncey’s life would end because of a story.
Bailey was working on a story about financial problems at the bakery, once a prominent African-American institution started in the early 70′s as an example of black self-sufficiency. Its policies were consistent with the Nation of Islam in that it was one of the only places that would hire ex-convicts.
The bakery fell on hard times after the patriarch, Yusuf Bey, Sr, died in 2003.
Violence took the lives of the elder Bey’s next two successors.
Waajid Aljawaad Bey, the man picked by the elder Bey to run the bakery, disappeared in February 2004. His body was found in a shallow grave in the Oakland hills several months later.
Bey IV’s older brother, Antar Bey, took over the bakery and took out $700,000 loan but regular payments were not made. He was killed in a failed carjacking in November 2005, leaving the bakery in the hands of then-19-year old Yusuf Bey IV.
One of Bey IV’s first acts was to lead a group of bakery employees and associates on a vandalism spree at two Oakland liquor stores. A shotgun was stolen from one of the stores.
The bakery fell into chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2006. Yusuf Bey IV was trying to keep the bankruptcy court from converting the chapter 11 to a chapter 7 liquidation when he learned Bailey was writing the story.
The man who actually killed Bailey, Devaughndre Broussard, testified that Bey told him he wanted Bailey killed before the story ran. Broussard pleaded guilty to killing Bailey and Roberson and was sentenced to 25-years in prison in exchange for his testimony.
Bailey was killed on the morning of August 2, 2007 with the same shotgun that was stolen from the liquor store.
Hardin-Bailey addressed Bey IV directly and drew a parallel between Bey’s father and Bailey.
“From what I understand you started good. You father wanted to do something good for the community,” she said. “That was Chauncey.”
Robin Haugen, the mother of victim Michael Wills, expressed frustration that Mackey and Bey IV were not charged with a hate crime.
“It was a hate or racist crime. I can’t imagine what Michael’s thoughts were… especially when he realized that this short walk would become a run for his life.”
Wills had walked to the store to buy cigarettes when he was spotted by Bey and Mackey.
Broussard testified that Mackey told him he “got a white devil.”
During sentencing Alameda County Superior Court judge Thomas Reardon cited the racial, hate crime motivating factor to justify making the sentences run consecutively.
Roberson was killed because his nephew was convicted of killing Antar in the failed carjacking.
Bailey’s ex-wife, Robin Hardin-Bailey, ended her statement by saying she forgave the defendants.
“I forgive you and the Chauncey Bailey I knew, the Chauncey Bailey who came here to right the wrongs, to tell the stories of people who had no voice,” I believe he would forgive you too.”
Bey IV’s had his attorney read a statement in which he said he was innocent.
“I do apologize to my family and the families of the victims for not making wiser decisions and allowing this to have occurred on my watch,” he wrote.
“I will not rest until I find out those who are truly responsible for setting this operation up. For years there have been elements out there trying to destroy the institution of Your Black Muslim Bakery and, though they have been successful temporarily, I know and believe that truth and righteousness always triumphs in the end.”
Attorneys for both Bey IV and Mackey plan to appeal.
Alameda County deputy district attorney Melissa Krum called the sentence, “absolutely and positively justice in it’s ultimate. There could not have been a more maximum sentence unless we had sought the death penalty.”
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and Jon Stewart are feuding over a skit on the comedian’s show in which he tried to mimic Cain’s voice and now the conservative and mainstream media are accusing each other of bias, which has kept the story alive for three weeks.
Herman Cain was addressing a campaign event on June 6th when he said, if elected, he would tell Congress, “don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill. You and I didn’t have time to read it. We are too busy trying to live, send our kids to school. That’s why I’m only going to allow small bills. Three pages.”
Three days later Stewart played segments of the video from the event and tried to mimic Cain’s voice using African American dialect saying, “bills will be three pages. If I am president, treaties will have to fit on the back of a cereal box. From now on, the State of the Union address will be delivered in the form of a fortune cookie. I am Herman Cain, and I do not like to read.”
Since then charges of racism have flown between conservative and mainstream publications and websites.
Oakland, CA — The jury in the trial of two men accused of three murders, including that of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, has been deliberating 8 days and has now asked for more testimony to be read back.
Specifically jurors want to hear what Devaughndre Broussard, Bailey’s confessed killer, said about the murder of Michael Wills. They also requested the testimony from defendant Antoine Mackey, who Broussard said killed Wills.
Broussard admitted killing Bailey on August 2, 2007 and Odell Roberson on July 8, 2007. He testified he was following the orders of Yusuf Bey IV, the CEO of the former Your Black Muslim Bakery.
Broussard says Bey IV wanted Bailey killed to stop a story he was writing about the bakery’s financial trouble.
Your Black Muslim Bakery was in chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2007 when the court expressed the intention of converting the chapter 11 reorganization to a chapter 7 liquidation. Witnesses say Bey IV was worried the story would hurt his chances of staving off chapter 7.
Roberson was killed, according to Broussard, to avenge the 2005 shooting death of Bey IV’s older brother, Antar Bey. Roberson’s nephew was convicted of killing Antar Bey in a failed carkjacking.
Wills was shot numerous times with an AK-47-style assault rifle on July 12, 2007. Broussard says Mackey killed Wills because he was a “White devil.”
Since the jury began deliberating on May 23, it has asked to hear testimony from Broussard regarding where he, Bey IV and Mackey went after the Bailey shooting. It also asked for testimony from an expert on a GPS tracking device placed on Bey IV’s car that showed where the car was driven after the Bailey shooting.
Last Thursday the jury asked to see AK-47 shell casings found on the roof of the bakery and in Bey IV’s bedroom. A ballistics expert testified they were fired from the same gun used to kill Wills and Roberson. The gun has never been found.
Bey IV and Mackey are charged with all three murders. They could each be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole, if convicted. Broussard will receive a 25-year sentence in exchange for his testimony.
Oakland — Jurors in the triple murder case against two men accused in the murder of Chauncey Bailey have gone home for the holiday weekend but not before asking to have more testimony read back to them.
Yusuf Bey IV, the CEO of the former Your Black Muslim Bakery, and Antoine Mackey are both charged with the August 2007 murders of Oakland Post editor Bailey, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills.
Witnesses described seeing a masked man walk up to Bailey and shoot him at point-black range with a shotgun. The killer then jumped into the passenger side of a white van, which sped away.
During the trial, the then-owner of the van, Rigoberto Magana, testified that Bey IV asked to borrow the van the morning Bailey was killed. Jurors listened intently as the court reporter read 38 pages of transcripts from Magana’s April 6 testimony in which he describes being asleep early on August 2, 2007 and hearing Bey IV tell someone to “ask Rigo for the keys to his van.”
Devaughndre Broussard has pleaded guilty to killing Bailey and Roberson and testified that Mackey killed Wills, drove the van in the Bailey murder and helped him kill Roberson.
Mackey took the stand in his own defense and denied killing Wills or being involved in the deaths of Bailey and Roberson. He testified that he spent the day of August 2nd at the bakery and did not leave until that afternoon he went to San Francisco to see his probation officer.
Broussard testified that he, Mackey and Bey IV went by the scene after Bailey was shot, then drove to a nearby lake, a restaurant and a local marina in the hours after the shooting. Bey IV made similar claims to police after his arrest and on a secret video recorded by police a few days after Bailey’s death.
Before going home for the weekend jurors told the judge they want to hear testimony from an expert on the GPS tracking device that was placed on Bey IV’s car.
The tracking device supports those claims. The testimony will be read back on Tuesday.
That will be the third time in the jurors’ 3-and-a-half days of deliberations that they’ve asked to have testimony read back. On Wednesday they wanted to hear the testimony of former Bey IV associate Dawud Bey, who testified that shortly after Bailey’s death Bey IV told him that Bailey was going to write “slanderous” stories about the bakery and “he (Bey IV) did what he had to do.”
The prosecution contends Dawud Bey meant that Bey IV had Bailey “taken out.”
If convicted, Bey IV and Mackey could be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. In exchange for his testimony, Broussard pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and will serve 25 years in prison.