5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Christina Prignano

Class of 2010

When I graduated from Northeastern in 2010, I had to take time off from two jobs so that I could actually attend my graduation ceremony. That time in my life was, in a word, overscheduled. One of the things I’m grateful for in hindsight was that I didn’t have time to really think about (and become terrified of) the fact that I was jumping into the real world. There are plenty of things that I wish I had known back then, so I was thrilled to take part in this series and offer whatever help I can.

Making an effort to seek out advice from people you admire is a great place to start after graduation, so in that spirit, the first idea I’ll offer up comes from a former colleague. Your social media presence is your resume. This was a favorite piece of advice from a stellar former social media editor at the Globe, and it’s a good one (not in every field, but in quite a lot of them). You’ve all heard the warnings about posting your party selfies and making inappropriate jokes online. But turn the warning on its head and it’s also true: You can show potential employers what you can do before you’ve even applied for a position.

This wasn’t possible ten years ago in the same way it is now, so take advantage of it. Post frequently about what you’re working on. Reach out and talk to people in your field. You have the ability to make an impression without having to go to those awkward networking events (although they help, too).

Writing in college is much different from writing at work. One of my favorite parts of graduating was saying goodbye to those 10+ page research papers. However, at many workplaces, documents are measured in words, not pages, and suddenly all of that effort you used to put into squeezing extra words into your sentences is working against you. Being able to get the most bang out of your paragraph is a great skill to have as you search for jobs. My advice for honing this skill is to continually rewrite your cover letters and other professional documents until you can get your point across in as few words as possible.

Not really sure where to start? It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do in life. Does it help to have a polished answer ready when your interviewer asks the dreaded “five year plan” question? Absolutely! But in my experience, not having a predetermined goal can also mean being open to unexpected opportunities and being eager to learn new skills.

I couldn’t even pick a major in college–I graduated with two. And so I found myself during college and immediately after graduation trying on a lot of hats. One of those hats, a part-time gig helping my former co-op launch a new website, turned into a full-time job that allowed me to try on even more hats. I jumped at whatever project came my way at that job, and eventually became the web editor of the organization’s publication, CommonWealth magazine. That role eventually led me to a job that I love today: a homepage producer for bostonglobe.com. My point is that if you find yourself looking for direction, it helps to jump at as many opportunities as you possibly can. Many absolutely won’t pan out, but some will.

Post-grad life can be stressful and challenging and not at all what you expected, but it’s really just the best. Congratulations on getting there, and don’t forget to enjoy it.

Christina Prignano is a homepage producer at bostonglobe.com and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. She majored in political science and journalism and sometimes wishes she still lived near Penguin Pizza. She can be reached on Twitter at @cprignano.

 

Print Isn’t Dead

source: www.mediamill.tt

source: www.mediamill.tt

This guest post for The Works was written by Erica Thompson, a recent journalism graduate from NU who is currently working as a Copy Editor at the Boston Globe.

“Print is dead,” said my journalism professor in our first lecture freshman year. “Get out while you can.”

The harsh advice wasn’t exactly how I planned to start my five years at Northeastern, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave a lasting impression. While print media has taken a serious hit in our primarily digital world, I’ve discovered that calling the newspaper industry “dead” is nothing but a hasty generalization.

So despite the discouraging words, I stuck with journalism, as I encourage those currently in the major to do, too. It’s tough, undoubtedly. Finding sources to contact and explaining yourself as a “student” journalist isn’t like writing a 10-page research paper or studying for an accounting exam; it’s a different kind of mental discipline.

But it was worth every 3 a.m. haze in Snell, every moment of panic that I didn’t credit a source correctly, and every snippy critique from a fellow student—not just because it made me a stronger writer (and person), but because I, along with most of my former classmates, got a job after graduation.

source: fyeahjournalismmajorcamel.tumblr.com

source: fyeahjournalismmajorcamel.tumblr.com

And it wasn’t by happenstance. I graduated Northeastern in May 2013 and, like many other journalism majors, completed three co-ops that really set the stage for my job search. While co-op provided me (as I’m sure it did for others) with experience, writing clips, and the day-to-day skills necessary to be successful in a job, the connections I made and the networking that took place during co-op were an equally large component to successfully landing interviews and actually getting a job offer.

Without a doubt, the journalism industry has definitely seen a struggle, and the number of jobs is not as high as a field like business or nursing. But as a Northeastern alumnus, having contacts through co-op is the key to getting your foot in the door.

The notion of “co-op connections” is something I only came to appreciate after I graduated, and something I wish I had been more conscious of while working. As much as the co-op department stresses the idea of networking, work becomes routine and it’s easy to forget that in six months, you won’t be sitting at that same desk, with those same people.

But being able to reach out to former colleagues, especially in a competitive field like journalism, is the difference between sending your resume into the black abyss of Mediabistro, and obtaining the direct e-mail of the hiring manager for a certain position. And, most importantly, the connections made on co-op extend beyond just the company you’ve worked for. It’s the connections current employees have with other companies, which opens up double, if not triple, the doors for post-grads.

Treasure that. It’s the most unique part of being a Husky, particularly in the field of journalism. And don’t give up on the industry. Just because it’s changing doesn’t mean it’s dead.

Erica Thompson graduated from Northeastern in May 2013 as a journalism major with a minor in public policy. She currently works as a Copy Editor at The Boston Globe, where she co-oped twice. She can be reached at erica.thompson@globe.com or on Twitter, @EricaThompson_