Three panelists shared tips Friday on the early stages of a successful journalism career through the “Jumpstarting Your Journalism Career” panel. The panelists were Kevin Olivas, the news recruiting manager for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Carolyn Burt, an audience engagement producer for the Southern Carolina News Group, and Grace Da Rocha, a general assignment reporter for the Las Vegas Sun.
“It’s a hard job. It’s not easy. And there’s a lot of people who denigrate what we do for a living. And yet our job is in the First Amendment,” said Olivas.
They also shared advice on standing out during a job interview.
“Remember the person you’re talking to, they were once you. They were once college students themselves about to graduate, nervous about getting that first job so they know what it’s like ,” said Olivas. “ It’s not fun if you’re constantly looking person after person, applicant after applicant, looking for that gem. They want you to be that gem. They want you to be the person that they’re looking for.”
The tip that caught most people’s eye in the audience was how crucial the relationship is between a mentor and a journalist.
Burt spoke to how her mentor, incoming Society of Professional Journalists president, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins provided guidance. She explained how Blaize-Hopkins helped her grow and gave her access to multiple opportunities. She said even when Blaize-Hopkins was pregnant, she still helped. She sent Burt an application for an internship with the Los Angeles Times.
Olivas also spoke to how not only mentors, but also building relationships with managers, may be incredibly important to a journalists’ growth and development.
“One of the things I would really encourage is finding a news operation that has a really supportive news leader,” said Olivas. “Whoever it is who can identify with what your experience is like, what you’re going through, to help you become a better storyteller who will offer you ongoing constructive criticism.”
Olivas also adds how great mentoring will also lead to success and confidence when working in larger markets.
“We want you to thrive in an environment like that to not be burned out. It’s going to be hard, but I got what I learned in the small or medium market first. It’s going to be stressful, but this is not going to overwhelm me. I know what to do, because I had a really good news director help me really be ready for this. I got this.”