If you are a Journalism student, or are thinking about becoming one in the future, you are legitimately wondering which career options you can count on while studying. While the answer may seem simple – that you will eventually become a journalist – the truth is actually a lot more complex than that.
First, becoming a journalist is not necessarily a straightforward path. It takes time to practice, gain experience and build a portfolio, before you turn into a reputable and reliable professional. In this regard, becoming a journalist intern is a great career start – it will most likely propel you into the right circles and help you get acquainted with the job and the key people in the trade.
Second, there are numerous directions in which your journalism career can go. After all, there are many types of journalism, broken down further into different topics, plus there are distinct occupations in each separate category. Until you define your path and have a career strategy, you need to start earning and practicing your skills.
In this article, we take a look at the most popular and sought-after career options for journalism students and for aspiring journalists, to get started in the trade:
1) Publishing Copyeditor / Proofreader
This is one of the more basic occupations related to journalism. A proofreader will usually go over texts (newspaper and website articles, essays, journals, brochures, books etc.) and prepare them for publication, by making sure that they are well written, clear, consistent, accessible, and credible. The key skills to become a successful proofreader are command of the language, especially grammar and vocabulary, attention to detail, a methodical working style as well as the ability to multitask, plus preferably ongoing studies (or a degree) in media or in publishing studies.
2) Press Sub-Editor
Quite similar to the proofreader, the sub-editor checks the text of newspapers and magazines for mistakes, before they go to press. The skills required are also pretty much the same: great writing, proofreading, and editing skills, coupled with attention to detail and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. However, this role is more organisational, or “institutionalised” if you like, in that the sub-editor usually works for a single publication only. This can open up exciting opportunities in the future – sub-editors who are good at their jobs can become responsible for page design and layout, can get to write their own material, or even get promoted to writer or press officer.
3) Advertising/Digital Copywriter
Put simply, a copywriter is someone who creates text aimed at enticing readers to perform a certain action – click on a link, subscribe to a service or buy a product. Even though copywriting is not considered “true” journalism per se, it does present extremely lucrative opportunities for journalism students or young aspiring journalists, who find themselves in need of extra income and the ability to freelance when possible. Furthermore, copywriting is useful for developing and refining your writing style, as well as building a basic portfolio and start getting published, albeit on little-known websites and publications at first.
4) Web Content Manager
Another great opportunity for journalism students in the digital world, is to become a web content manager. This is a job focused on functionality, in that rather than simply proofreading and editing texts, the web content manager makes sure that webpages are properly structured, accessible, informative, easy to navigate and read, and overall useful to visitors. Besides text, a web content manager curates images, videos, ad banners, reviews and more. To be successful at this job, one needs to combine journalism with digital, marketing and management skills. The takeaway here, is that this type of career can branch out tremendously, into specialisations such as digital management, project management, digital marketing and digital publishing.
5) Editorial Assistant
This is the first step towards becoming a full-fledged editor. An editorial assistant offers their support to senior editorial staff, by coordinating editorial efforts, communicating with all parties involved, tracking tasks, editing, assessing, and sometimes even writing material, directly overseeing projects, contributing ideas and much more. This job is a great idea for a journalism student, since it entails trying your hand at real publishing and getting up close and personal with all the intricacies of the business, while also taking your best shot for the much-desired role of editor.
While you might be disappointed by the fact that this list does not include the roles of journalist, analyst or writer, the truth of the matter is, you should not be considering these options at present. First of all, it is almost impossible to get employed in these roles by a serious publication, without any prior experience and at least a decent portfolio. As a sidenote, you do not want to get involved with companies that are less reputable, since this might leave a smear on your reputation in the long term. Second, the jobs in our list will help you get acquainted with the industry and realize where your passion and interests lie. And last, but certainly not least, you need a job that grants you sufficient free time to focus on your studies and networking, which will both set a solid base for your future career.