Becoming a journalist is not necessarily a linear journey. It takes time to practice, gain experience, and build a portfolio before you can establish yourself as a reputable and reliable professional. Starting as a journalism intern is an excellent way to kickstart your career. It will likely connect you with the right circles and allow you to familiarize yourself with the job and the key players in the industry.
Moreover, there are numerous directions in which your journalism career can evolve. After all, journalism encompasses various types, each with its own subcategories and distinct occupations. Until you define your path and develop a career strategy, it’s important to start honing your skills and earning experience.
In this article, we will explore some of the most popular and sought-after career options for journalism students and aspiring journalists:
1. Publishing Copyeditor/Proofreader
A copyeditor or proofreader plays a fundamental role in journalism. Their task involves reviewing texts such as newspaper articles, website content, essays, journals, brochures, and books, ensuring they are well written, clear, consistent, accessible, and credible. Key skills for success in this role include a strong command of language, particularly grammar and vocabulary, meticulous attention to detail, a methodical working style, multitasking abilities, and preferably ongoing studies or a degree in media or publishing studies.
2. Press Sub-Editor
Similar to a proofreader, a sub-editor scrutinizes the text of newspapers and magazines for errors before they go to print. The required skills are also quite similar: excellent writing, proofreading, and editing skills, keen attention to detail, and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment. However, this role has a more organizational aspect to it. Typically, sub-editors work for a specific publication, which can present exciting opportunities for advancement. Those who excel in their roles may take on responsibilities such as page design and layout, writing original content, or even progressing to become writers or press officers.
3. Advertising/Digital Copywriter
While not traditionally considered “true” journalism, copywriting offers lucrative opportunities for journalism students and aspiring journalists. Skilled copywriters create persuasive text aimed at encouraging readers to take specific actions, such as clicking on a link, subscribing to a service, or purchasing a product. Copywriting can provide additional income and freelancing opportunities while allowing you to develop and refine your writing style. It also helps you build a basic portfolio by getting published, even on lesser-known websites and publications initially.
4. Web Content Manager
In the digital realm, journalism students have a great opportunity to become web content managers. This role focuses on the functionality of web pages, ensuring they are properly structured, accessible, informative, easy to navigate and read, and overall beneficial for visitors. Besides text, web content managers curate images, videos, ad banners, reviews, and more. To excel in this job, one must combine journalism skills with digital, marketing, and management expertise. This career path can lead to various specializations, including digital management, project management, digital marketing, and digital publishing.
5. Editorial Assistant
Becoming an editorial assistant is the first step toward becoming a full-fledged editor. In this role, you provide support to senior editorial staff by coordinating editorial efforts, communicating with all involved parties, tracking tasks, editing content, and evaluating materials. Sometimes, editorial assistants even have the opportunity to write, oversee projects, and contribute ideas. This job allows journalism students to gain firsthand experience in publishing and familiarize themselves with the intricacies of the industry, while also working towards their goal of becoming an editor.
You might be disappointed that this list doesn’t include roles such as journalist, analyst, or writer. The truth is, it is highly unlikely to secure employment in these positions with a reputable publication without prior experience and a decent portfolio. It’s important to avoid associating yourself with less reputable companies as this could tarnish your reputation in the long run. Instead, the jobs on our list will help you become acquainted with the industry and discover where your passions and interests truly lie. Additionally, you need a job that allows you enough free time to focus on your studies and networking, which will lay a solid foundation for your future career.
In conclusion, as a journalism student, there are several viable career options available to you. By considering these paths and gaining practical experience in related roles, you can pave the way for a successful and fulfilling career in journalism. Remember to stay committed to your studies, continuously improve your skills, and seize opportunities for growth along the way.