Things I thought I knew about life, New York and journalism.

Coming to New York, I thought I knew what it would be like — tons of people, extremely fast-paced, everyone is cheery and talented (which I learned from movies, of course). I thought I knew that I wanted to go into traditional journalism because that’s all I’ve really been exposed to. I thought I knew that I wanted to live in a big city because I’ve lived in a small one for so long. I thought I knew a lot of things.

Spending a few days in the city has changed my perspective. I honestly have no idea what I want to do with my life, which terrifies me. I’m supposed to know these things, right?

I don’t think I want to live in a big city (probably because the first night here we were welcomed by some promiscuous homeless people on the subway). I don’t think I want to go into traditional journalism because I’ve realized it’s too small of a market, and I don’t seem to ask the right questions.

The reason I’ve started questioning these things (especially my career path) was because of the places we’ve visited.

The first day, we visited Ketchum Public Relations. I thought I knew that I didn’t want to go into PR/advertising scene, so I wasn’t entirely thrilled for the visit. But after speaking with the employees there, it sounded like it was something I wanted to do. Plus, they gave helpful advice and were just nice people.Ketchum

Brian Keenan, the Global Creative Initiative Manager, really helped me understand how to market myself. He talked about how people need to set themselves apart in order to get jobs — you need to demonstrate a passion for something (like food, for example) and be an expert in it.

Well, I don’t have a passion. Not yet, anyway. So I guess I better get one before I graduate.

Then we spoke to a few other employees, like Diana Garrett, the Account Supervisor for Ketchum, and Shaista Shenoy, the Digital AAE & Business Development Specialist for Ketchum. Their jobs sounded like a lot of fun because you worked with companies and created a campaign and got to be creative. Ideally, I’d like to do something in the digital range, like videos, photography or social media, so this sounded perfect.

Who really hit it home for me, though, was Lindsay Bergantino, the Talent Acquisition Specialist. She gave great advice on applying for jobs.

Here are a few points that stood out to me:

  • Be visual on your resume. You only have about six seconds to make an impression.
  • Do some homework on the company prior to an interview.
  • Monitor your social media to make sure you don’t have any inappropriate photos or posts.
  • Have insightful questions in your interview.
  • Write a thank you letter (preferably through email) and tailor it to the conversation you had with that person.

Ketchum helped me realize that there’s a different avenue that I can pursue.

New York TimesThen, we headed to The New York Times and learned about its graphics department from Kevin Quealy. I admire The New York Times, so it was extremely exciting for me to see; however, Kevin made me realize how difficult it was to get into traditional journalism, and how the print press is going down, so it’s not really an avenue I think I should pursue.

He also talked about a bunch of skills that we should have coming out of college, such as knowing how to do HTML/CSS and building a website from scratch.

It was sort of a wake-up call to me because I had always dreamed of working for a place such as The New York Times, but hearing about the state of the industry as well as the amount of education and skill needed for the paper, I realized that maybe I should be dreaming of something else.

Yesterday, we visited Amsterdam News, which is a newspaper that caters to the black community. It was interesting to learn about the different types of press, especially something that isn’t mainstream.

Then, we visited WNET, which is the largest and most watched public station in the nation. It was interesting to hear Barbara Gordon, THIRTEEN’s Director of Audience/Market Research, talk about how not-for-profit stations are different from for-profit stations.

Senior Director of Communications Kellie Specter and Barbara also gave great advice on a career path given the state of the industry:

  • Be a generalist, not a specialist.
  • You have more opportunities in outside PR, rather than in-house.
  • Get a good internship, get an “in” to the organization.

So far, the places we’ve visited have helped me understand the state of the industry even further, especially with the explosion of technology. I thought I had a pretty clear understanding of what I wanted to do with my career, but this trip has totally changed my mind.

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  1. #1 by James McPherson on January 14, 2013 - 2:00 pm

    With more than a dozen sites to go, we’ll no doubt confuse you further. 🙂 But you have plenty of time to figure things out.

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