Journalism training can open unexpected doors

by | Nov 29, 2013 | Opinion

Alessandra Micieli

Alessandra Micieli, Life Editor

For the few years we’re in college trying to hone our skills for the competitive field of journalism, we all set our minds on who we want to become. Most of us start applying for entry-level jobs, and the internships others land might eventually turn into a real career. But I sometimes wonder if any of my peers have ever considered a career in public relations, online marketing or social media instead.

As I think about my uncertain future, I hear the voice of my kindergarten teacher, and I suddenly feel four years old again. All my classmates confidently say that they want to become doctors, teachers and nurses. It’s my turn. I stop and think for a moment.

“Um, I-I don’t know what I want to be yet,” I say, stuttering. My classmates snicker. My teacher reassures me that this is very fine, and we carry on with the lesson.

Seventeen years later, I feel as though I’m still pondering that same question. Do I really want to become a journalist? Are there any other jobs I can pursue with my background in journalism? Though this might not cross every young journalist’s mind, there are other options out there.

But there’s always that doubt: why go through the motions in a program you don’t intend to pursue as a career?

To be honest, nothing has really interested me. I came to college to find myself and hopefully develop through the experience a wide range of skills applicable to a bunch of different careers. Journalism seemed like a great fit. I’m sure I’m not rowing in this boat alone.

I’ve learned a lot from Humber’s journalism program. I now know how to edit, write and produce for various types of media. Coming into the program, I was interested in television production. I figured that if I learned the ropes of broadcast journalism, I would be set.

But as I learned more of the nature of the job, I began to doubt that the long, grueling hours at a TV station in downtown Toronto would be right for me. It isn’t my scene. I could never see myself doing this job while also juggling the responsibilities of having a family. I would rather have a more manageable set of working hours.

And so, I explored the world of print. I love to write, and I found magazine writing to be very fulfilling. I loved it. I was fascinated by the production of a tangible piece of print. This was something I saw myself excelling in.

After my second year at Humber came to a close, I began frantically searching for an internship. Eventually, I landed a position for the summer as one of the editorial/web interns for Today’s Parent magazine.

I’m not a parent yet, and so I was very limited when it came to writing articles. Most of the time, I was stuck fact-checking shorter articles and features. I also helped edit these articles for online publishing. This is when I realized that all these skills I’ve learned in journalism have served a different purpose for me.

I learned from my colleagues at Today’s Parent that there are different kinds of careers within the field of journalism that might not seem so obvious. For example, I rarely hear anyone speak about a career in social media. Many companies (and not just media outlets) look for individuals with a background in journalism to help run their websites and social media accounts. Taking classes, such as web writing and design and online journalism can help prepare a person for a career in such a field. Journalists in training may find this route appealing, as online publishing is a significant portion of the curriculum. Online content management is an absolute asset for those seeking a career in these areas. Learning other online-related skills, such as SEO (search engine optimization) had helped me extremely well throughout my internship.

Developing all these skills, a journalism student may find more options available to them in the future. Careers in writing, editing, social media and even public relations are possibilities that should not be overlooked. Students specializing in both print and broadcast in their final years have all refined the skills necessary to develop websites with features such as photo essays, short videos, and other interactive multimedia elements.

I am proud to say that I will soon be graduating from one of the best journalism schools around, and that my education will not go to waste. The skills I’ve learned have proven to me that journalism was the right course of study. I like to think I’m using journalism as a stepping-stone to a career with a wider range of possibilities.