Alumni kick off yearlong career chat series
Eight Media School alumni visited virtually Friday to kick off a yearlong series of career chats with students.
Friday’s panelists spoke in two sessions about careers in news reporting and editing, as well as nontraditional career paths for journalism majors.
The virtual chats replace the annual daylong Media Career Day while in-person events are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The next career chats, Careers in Public Relations and Careers in Advertising, are Nov. 6.
Careers in News Reporting and Editing
By Daniela Molina
Four Media School alumni opened up Friday about the challenges they’ve faced as women in journalism and gave advice to young women trying to follow in their footsteps.
Michele DeSelms, BA’89, community strategy manager for WOOD-TV8, hosted Friday’s virtual Media Career Chat: Careers in News Reporting and Editing. She was joined by Katie Mettler, BAJ’14, reporter for The Washington Post; Sia Nyorkor, BAJ’00, anchor and multimedia reporter for Cleveland 19; and Araceli Gómez-Aldana, BAJ’13, news producer, reporter and weekend host for WBEZ Chicago.
Mettler encouraged women to “know your worth.” She shared the story of the time she talked herself out of applying for a job because she convinced herself she wasn’t qualified. She now knows that wasn’t true.
“Don’t take yourself out of the game,” Mettler said.
Gómez-Aldana shared her personal experience of having to navigate through smaller markets to get the opportunity to be more hands-on in the newsroom.
All panelists recalled the importance of being conscious and purposeful with the opportunities they received. Internships set student journalists apart when they start applying for jobs, they said.
“Don’t wait til you’re about to be a senior to apply,” DeSelms said.
As more women navigate important positions in the newsroom, panelists discussed the importance of a healthy work/life balance and what that looks like — especially during a pandemic.
Nyorkor and Mettler said they both remove Twitter from their phones on the weekend to eliminate the temptation for “doomscrolling.”
Although expectations for female anchors and reporters have changed, social media makes it even easier to comment on reporters’ appearance, Nyorkor said. People can be mean, she said, and don’t hesitate to comment on women’s clothes, appearance and even the way they wear their hair. She emphasized the importance of ignoring nonconstructive criticism.
“Learn to pick your battles,” she said.
At the end of the discussion, the panelists weighed the value of journalism against the stress and mental toll it sometimes takes on journalists. Each panelist said they love their job and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Careers Beyond the Newsroom
By Meredith Struewing
Joining student media organizations as early as possible, creating your own support network and simply saying “thank you” are just some tips for success provided to students in the Careers Beyond the Newsroom session.
Three IU journalism alumni joined moderator Thom Patterson, BA’87, digital communications supervisor for UPS and former CNN reporter/producer, talked about how they use their journalism education in non-traditional settings.
Cordell Eddings, BAJ’06, was a reporter for The Indianapolis Star for his first two years out of college, and he spent nearly a decade covering financial news for Bloomberg.
“Early on in my career I got very excited when my story was on the front page,” Eddings said. “The further I went into journalism, I realized that seeing my name wasn’t that important to me anymore. I asked myself, ‘What do I like and not like about what I do?’”
He has since transitioned to content marketing, a career that combines his love of learning and writing. He’s now supervisory analyst and deputy compliance officer for Capstone, a policy analysis and regulatory due diligence firm.
“Your job is just a bunch of skills,” Eddings said. “You realize your skill set can translate to a lot of other jobs.”
While at the IDS, Eddings worked under Carrie Ritchie, BAJ’08, his editor-in-chief. She also worked alongside Eddings at the Star, covering local government and education.
In 2014, Ritchie joined IBM as its social business manager, managing and creating social accounts and campaigns with IBM employees and international teams.
As content director for Meredith Corporation, Jamie Luke, BAJ’96, creates different forms of media for the company, such as infographics, social-driven shorts and digital microsites.
“My job is about coming up with a concept that’s rooted in the story and how that story can play out,” Luke said.
It’s a direction Luke took largely due to the connections she made in her previous jobs.
“Developing relationships every step of the way is key to your career,” Luke said. “By keeping in touch with one or two employees from a company, it turns a relationship into a network that can last years.”
When Eddings joins a new organization, he creates a plan to make one or several employees his secret mentors, connecting with them outside of work and creating his own support network.
“It’s important to not count on an organization to do that for you,” he said.
All three alumni encouraged students to surround themselves with people who give their work constructive feedback.
“When you’re a really strong student and you trust what content you put out, it’s very tempting to just love your ideas a lot,” Luke said. “A challenging thing to do is really check yourself and listen to those different perspectives.”
Another difficult aspect for students to understand is that their career path will evolve. And that’s OK.
“Realize that you’re going to change so much from this point in your life to when you’re in your 30s,” Ritchie said. “Embrace that change, look for new opportunities and keep adjusting your goals accordingly.”
The panelists encouraged students to differentiate themselves by being scrappy and resourceful.
“Show up, work hard, have a positive attitude, be kind to people and say ‘thank you.’ That’s probably going to set you apart from 80% of the workforce,” Ritchie said. “Those are the keys to success that are just overlooked.”