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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @EricaThompson_