I earned a BA from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2005. I completed my degree in four years and graduated with honors. I excelled through my core classes and completed five internships prior to graduating. Overall – I loved the program, my professors and the learning environment. But I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m doing it because ironically, despite these successes, I felt completely unprepared to enter the workforce upon graduating.
After four years I had amassed a great deal of pertinent knowledge, yet I had no idea what types of careers I could pursue outside news writing and agency public relations. I never wanted or expected anyone to hold my hand through the process of finding a job, but I did anticipate receiving more career guidance and exposure. Journalism is a diverse and dynamic field that continues to evolve as our world grows and changes. The journalistic careers of a few years ago have already lost relevance and availability.
I feel fortunate to have navigated through these challenges and landed on my feet in some amazing jobs. But when I reflect on my how my education prepared me for work, it’s difficult to find many connections. Only one of my internships was required by the program, the others were secured on my own volition. My personal ambitions certainly pushed me toward pursuing additional experience, but I still was totally unaware of the field of corporate communications when I finished school.
That’s right. I had never heard of the field that employs me and the majority of today’s journalism graduates. I did not know that almost every company and non-profit agency in the world employs professional writers and communicators. I believe that acquiring this knowledge as part of my coursework would have given me a tremendous advantage.
I readily admit that I know next to nothing about how universities establish curricula and maintain the proper accreditation. I’m sure there are miles of red tape and endless debates that determine the course of a leading journalism program. It would take more than snapping fingers to create what I envision could set a program apart from all the rest.
What do I propose? A course for college juniors and seniors taught entirely by industry professionals. Every session would be centered on a lecture from a different local pro, describing his or her career path and experiences. Students would learn about various careers, build professional connections and prioritize their job search.
Not sure if this is possible, although it surely exists in certain schools, and I think it could be a huge addition for current and future students at my alma mater.
From my soapbox to yours.