Spike Series – Writing and Journalism
CollegeAdvisor.com (formerly Bullseye Admissions) presents its spike series webinar on Writing and Journalism in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with a Bullseye advisor. Our presenter will share their insider perspectives on how to develop an application spike in this area and how they applied successfully to colleges with this spike. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2020-10-15 Writing and Journalism
Think you can start whenever. Okay, great. I work at a nonprofit, so sometimes we wait for a couple of minutes cause our audience tends to be all over the place it’s international. So
he has nine people in here. Now feel free to start whenever you’re ready. Great. So how many people do we have here so far? We have 10 attendees right now. Great. So I’m sure more people will probably filter in since I think about 50 signed up, but we can go ahead and get started now. So hi everyone.
Welcome to the bullseye presentation. On writing and journalism. So my name is Laura and I’m to orient everyone with the webinar, timing and different chat tabs. We’ll start off with the presentation. And then after about 20 or 30 minutes we’ll go ahead and answer your questions in a live Q and a about 10 or 15 questions have been submitted so far, but feel free to continue to submit questions in the Q and a as the presentation goes on.
So on the sidebar and in the public chat, you can download our slides in the handouts tab and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a tab. Yeah. So my name again is Laura McClay. So to give you a quick background about me in high school is when I started to develop my interest.
Having a career that incorporates writing into it and also focusing in on that in college. Interestingly enough, in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I started out. I actually found a presentation that I did a while back. And in that presentation I said, I either want to be a lawyer or an orthodontist.
So yeah, I was still figuring it all out and considering all of my career options, but I found as time went on that writing was something that I gravitated towards both in terms of my skills and my interests. And I’ve been pursuing it in different ways ever since. Back when I was in high school, I was involved in a couple of activities that kind of related to writing.
And I got involved in more throughout the course of high school. So one of the things that I did in high school was I was actually a part of the literary magazine. I actually went to a high school named Langley high school here in McLean, Virginia. And the publication that I was working on was called a kaleidoscope.
So that was a really fun experience for me, where I ended up joining cause a couple of my friends were on the board and it was just really cool to be able to read all the submissions of students in our entire high school, which was pretty big. And then have discussions about which ones we thought would fit in with the theme of the magazine and then be a part of the editing process and the design process.
So that was one of the early experiences that really shaped my interest in writing. And I continued to do things from then on. So another thing that I did later. On in high school was I had some friends that started an organization called today’s readers tomorrow’s leaders, and that was essentially a nonprofit encouraging early elementary school kids to read.
So we might do some recordings of audio books and distribute books across our region. And that was another experience that really shaped my interest in writing. So that’s the major things that I did in high school that were particularly related to writing and journalism. Although I did do other activities throughout my four years and then getting into a bit of, my qualifications and what I did when I was in high school.
So I received an 800 on the writing section of my sat back when it was broken out that way. In my school. And so I felt like that section out of the three was honestly the easiest to game in some ways, because they test a certain list of grammar rules. And it seems like the more that you’re familiar with them and the more you practice, it’s almost like learning a language or learning math, like it gets easier and easier.
And I don’t think you necessarily have to have a huge background in reading in order to practice and learn these rules. So that was one thing that I did that I emphasized on my applications that helped me stand out a bit when I was trying to make a case for my background in writing. Also I think that writing and English tend to be tied fairly closely.
So I try to take standardized tests that really emphasize my interest in writing and English. So I took the AP lit and AP Lang exam and received high marks on those. And then when I was actually in college, I continued to pursue writing in different ways. So I think I can get to that on the next slide, but let’s see.
Yeah, so I guess quickly talking about what I did in college. One of the things I did was we had a literary magazine called the Wellesley review. So it was similar to what we did in high school. Essentially this magazine was broken out into three sections. There was the poetry section, the prosection and the photography slash art section.
So it was pretty diverse actually. And we had a different editor for each of those three sections that would essentially coordinate which of the submissions were chosen based on a popular vote and then assign editors in those sections to work with the authors in order to edit their papers. So I actually happened to join that organization pretty early on in college.
Just to see what it was all about since I had pursued a similar thing in high school and because I stuck with it over time I got more experienced and I ended up being editor in chief for the past, for the last two years of college. Another thing that I did for writing was I was actually a campus writing tutor for three years.
So the kinds of works that I would edit would range from, a first year seminar on dystopian novels to a senior thesis on conflicts, so there was just a broad amount of things that writing tutors would have to learn about and learn the style of each major, which I found to be very interesting.
And then the last thing that I did a little bit more casually in college in terms of writing was we had this international relations magazine called the global. Which would come out fairly infrequently. So I also participated in some editing for that night.
So that’s a little bit about my background and kind of the ways that I pursued writing when I was in high school and college. And now we’re transitioning into taking that information. If there’s a, if there’s a variety of people in a variety of circumstances, how can we generalize that experience and provide some advice for kind of what you can do if you want to pursue writing?
So some general advice I have I know that most of our participants in our webinars tend to be later in college, but I will say, if you can, it’s always good to start early when you know that you have an interest it’s good to pursue it. And then how to figure out if it’s something that you want to continue to do when go through the rest of your high school.
And also I think that people who are interested in writing and journalism in particular have such an advantage in terms of how many options there are in terms of ways to pursue this kind of focus because truly every career values, people that have strong writing skills, right? So there’s pretty much no job that you can do that wouldn’t value having this as a skill and something that you can emphasize on your resume.
So that’s one of the things that drew me to writing in the first place. But in terms of things that you can pursue in college obviously there’s the traditional clubs, right? A newspaper, a literary magazine, maybe a club around, a book club or discussing the writing works that you do.
But I will say because writing is such a broad interest, and there’s so many ways to express yourself if you can find a club that fits in your high school, you can always try different things, right? Like you can actually make a club. If you’re a high school, allows you to make your own clubs or even do something more informally with a group of friends you can, independently pursue your interest.
So even if you don’t have any kind of formal organization that you’re a part of, you can still be building up your skills and really like
just doing writing on your own. And then another thing you can actually do is apply to contests. So there’s a wide variety of contests that you can apply to. And I’ll get more into that later. But that’s just one way to get more practice and maybe get some accomplishments early on that you can use in your favorite book.
So breaking up my advice into two buckets. There’s the underclassmen who wants to get more involved. And there’s the upperclassmen who might’ve already been developing the interest. So for an underclassmen something that I’ve always found really valuable is mentorship. So you can, I would suggest that you would speak with upperclassmen that are part of these clubs that you’re considering joining and get a general sense of the time commitment, what the actual focus of the club is, what the culture is.
Cause all those things can make a major difference in terms of how much that you get out. Another thing that you can do is you don’t really have to confine yourself to your school especially now with COVID. You can always figure out if there’s other clubs in your town or even just online, anywhere that you can be a part of and just send in your writing and get feedback and things like that.
Also if you’re an upperclassmen it’s already been doing this for awhile, things that are important to make your resume stand out. Obviously it’s take on leadership roles if you can, but not just that, I think really colleges like to see you taking like leadership and owning your own work in a very authentic and different ways.
So if you make up your own initiatives when you’re doing this and like for instance, making a non-profit where you’re talking about how you want to spread. Joy everyday in a knowledge of reading to kids. That’s one thing that you can do to stand out and just take on this initiative on your own and just demonstrating your sincerity around this interest, because writing is such a broad thing you can talk about on your applications, even informally when something like writing might be something that you do just want to wind down at night something you do to help you relax or, decompress and things like that.
So that’s some general advice. So with that said as a general introduction we’re going to be jumping into our first poll. So the first question for you guys tonight is are you currently in a writing or journalism related extracurricular? And I will launch the poll now. So we’ll give you guys like 30 seconds to answer, and then we can report back about the results and let you know what the breakout of our audience.
Great. We’re getting a couple of responses so far. So I’ll give you guys like 20 more seconds and then let you know what the results are.
Okay. So we’ll start wrapping up our poll. Very interesting results actually. So we had 15 responses, which is a pretty good sample size, I would say. And it turns out that people here involved with camp, campus publications 20% of everyone people that are already writing tutors 15% writing internships, a full third, which is really impressive, especially for high school.
No, for any of these 20% solid and then other 14%. So great. That’s really interesting to know. It seems like most of us here have had some exposure to writing and then a solid fit. The BAS are starting to consider this as a future interests that you want to pursue more. So both of those are very valuable in terms of just learning more about it and figuring out what you want to do in the future.
This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, which is writing in journalism in college essays. So a little bit more about me to start off. I applied to 20 colleges, which was pretty crazy, but I just wanted to keep my options open. And I feel like through that process, I just learned so much about applications.
Keeping your writing short and concise and really finding ways to reflect your interests in in ways that kind of stand out and are still brief and snappy. So for the common app when I wrote it about, like six years ago I took a risk and I kid you not guys, I actually wrote about writing for my main application essay and I finessed the prompt a bit too, because it was very general and I just ran with it.
The problems that I got was where do you feel like you’re most. So typical responses to that prompts were things like, oh, my family vacation house, or in the mountains with my grandparents, like physical locations, but I wrote about how I feel most at home in the sense of feeling at ease and relaxed when I’m writing.
So I kind of the way that I tried to portray my interest in a way that wasn’t too cheesy, which is, always a fear was just describing in vivid detail, my writing process. So I talked about when I was reading my favorite book, which was Fahrenheit 4 51 at the time, how my heart was literally like beating out of my chest when I was reading a certain scene.
And how that emotional response that I had to the book really let me know that writing was something that I, that was powerful and really makes a difference in terms of, controlling people’s emotions and behaviors and actions and how that. Early interest that I had in writing shaped everything that I did afterwards.
So that was what I did to outline my essay and make it relate to what I was most interested in at the time. And there’s a lot of different ways you can showcase your backgrounds in writing when you’re submitting this application. So first off, things like test scores are always a good way to show competence, right?
And when you’re ready colleges, you can always send supplemental information or even just writing on the side, writing them a letter. And that’s something that I would recommend that helps you stand out and helps you weave together your interests in a way that is cohesive. Another thing that you can do obviously is emphasize in your clubs what your roles were in the clubs, what the clubs accomplished, how the clubs changed over time and things of that nature.
And then finally talking about your independent hobbies and interests. So again, because writing is so broad, just talking about, every single way that you experienced writing as you have it in your daily life is something that you can portray in a way that shows why it’s something that you’re good at and why it’s something that you want to pursue at whatever college you applied to.
So it’s always good to move from your passion and your interest to your accomplishment and looking at the future. So it’s always helpful if you are able to have strong recommendations either from teachers, clubs sponsors, or in the case of a third of you internship mentors. So that’s something that helps you stand out and establishes that.
Not only are you interested in writing, but other people are interested in what you have to say and how you say it. And then here’s something I want to talk about a little bit more is writing samples. Not all colleges require writing samples, some do depending on what major you’re applying for.
But that’s something that can really help you stand out and help you demonstrate the way that you write in a way that might not be the typical type of high school essay. So if you can, I would recommend sending, writing samples. And then another thing that people don’t often think about is really how you’re able to follow up once you apply to a college.
So in my case, after I submitted all my applications, I tried to make them nuance. I tried to follow all of the advice that I’m giving you guys, but I still wanted to stand out as much as possible, and because there’s so many people applying for so many few spots, you really can’t go wrong with trying to cultivate like a unique personality that makes the admissions staff remember you.
So for the schools that I was most interested in, I actually did something where I drove to the school after I was admitted. And then I basically just walked around, talk to students. And then I sent the colleges a letter talking about how impressed I was by my visit and how it confirmed that I was highly interested in attending that institution.
And then I wouldn’t have meant doing this for a lot of schools, but for your top school or something like that, you can actually say if selected, I plan on attending X university and that’s what I did for my top school, which was Wellesley college. And I got in. So I think that just showing your interest and how not only are you concerned about making sure the college is a good fit for you, but they’re concerned about, what are their acceptance rates and things like that.
So if you tell them that they are your top choice, you’re definitely going to go there. Even if you’re not applying early action or early decision, it helps you stand out a ton.
So now a little bit about resumes. I’m assuming you guys are just starting to build your resumes. A third of you have done internships before, so it’s good to talk about the best way to portray your interests in the resume for Matt. Resumes were something that we talked a lot about in our writing tutoring training, because especially during college resumes, cover letters are make or break in terms of your applications, especially as somebody that’s trying to pursue writing. So obviously you want to keep your resume to one page at this point because of your experience and how you’re still developing your early skills. And you want to make sure that for every major experience you have max two or three bullet points, really getting to the point of your major accomplishments and the skills that you develop.
Something that I personally like to do is because I like writing and I think it, it can give you a leg up in terms of how you’re perceived. I’d like to actually add a summary section to the top of my resume and write three or four sentences, just talking about like my major accomplishments my major skills.
So that way, if somebody only spends like 30 or 40 seconds reviewing your resume, they’re still going to see your best argument for why you’re qualified for a particular job or internship. So another thing that is pretty intuitive, but it’s always good to reaffirm for yourself is that you want to be using active voice throughout.
Just I statements I did this, I did that, not actually saying I, but and then showcasing your leadership and initiative through using this, executed X number of things with Y results, things like that. You want to be really active in terms of how you describe what you’ve done.
And you also want to be really specific and you want to be very quantitative. If you were distributing a publication that got 300 subscriptions, and you want to say that you brew your audience by X percent and kind of, how much your reach was and a metrics like that you also want to be demonstrating a wide skillset and adaptability.
So it’s really important to show your interest in hard work when you’re still gaining experience. So at this point, most jobs and colleges and internships are not looking for somebody at your age that has, an entire resume full of accomplished mints. It’s more about showing you’ve done a couple of things you’re interested in learning more, and you’re going to be a super hard worker that will adapt to whatever circumstance that you’re put in.
And then just to reinforce this point Your copy editing of your resume is so crucial. Because if you’re applying to writing positions and they see a type of like just one thing wrong, or even one or two they might throw out your resume, right? Cause if they’re hiring somebody that they want to be doing editing for their own projects or whatnot they really want to make sure that you’re competent and it can be so easy to make one mistake when you’ve been reviewing a resume a ton of times or altering it depending on, the job that you’re applying to, which I would recommend by the way.
So I would always say that you should have at least one or two people reviewing your resume before you send it off and making sure that the writing is clear. And there’s no typos because it sucks to spend three or four hours working on your resume and then have somebody look at it for five seconds and throw it out because of a small mistake.
So with that said once you have figured out the ways that you want to be pursuing writing in journalism, when you’re in high school, you want to be looking forward to how you will be applying that experience once you get to college. So here is a preliminary list of schools with very strong English and writing programs.
Most of these are pretty big universities. I will say that a ton of liberal arts colleges have really great writing programs where you get to know your professor closely and work with them. So definitely also plugging, liberal arts colleges for that particularly there’s a couple that stand out like Williams college is great for that Wellesley where I went to scrape for that.
And Kenyon college actually is very well known for its writing program. So if you’re interested in learning more about which schools are the best to apply to for top English programs and writing. Feel free to download this slide show or continue to do your own research on that. So with that said, we’re going to jump into another poll.
And this time we’re curious to know if you are interested in joining campus publications becoming a writing tutor or doing writing internships in college. Let’s see.
Hey task. Do you know if that pole is still alive?
Okay, let’s oh, here it is. Great.
cool. So it looks like the poll is up now sorry for technical difficulties. I’m going to give you guys like 20 more seconds to answer these questions and I’ll let you know what the responses are.
cool. So the polling is closed now. We got a number of responses. That’s a weird, it looks like the poll just cleared. Okay. I will get back to you guys with the responses. There’s just some weird technical difficulties with the pools right now. But yeah, so moving on. So from what I could tell briefly when the results came back in, it seems like about half of you are interested in pursuing canvas publication.
So something that I thought was really cool when I got to college was even though I went into a pretty small school where we had, like 2000, some students, there was actually a number of different options for campus publications. And at bigger universities there’s even more, so if you want to be involved in publications, you don’t just have to be involved in a school newspaper.
There’s a ton of options based on different personality types and different interests. At Wellesley we had the literary magazine, which was the Wellesley review, which I was a part of. But we also had the Wellesley news, which was the general news organization. And we had a number of other very interesting ones.
So a couple of other magazines that we had, we actually had a comedy magazine where it was satirical and a little bit controversial in some ways. And students were always very much excited when that publication would come out and it would be a talking point in. We also had a global magazine where we would talk about issues, not related to school, culture, school, life, but talking more about international news.
So a lot of students would talk about maybe their experiences traveling abroad, or just talking about their opinions on things that were going on at that time in the world. And then also a number of cultural organizations also had their own publications talking about particular regions of the world.
So there’s a lot of different, interesting ways that you can pursue publications beyond just, working at school newspaper.
And then also a number of you guys were talking about how you want to be involved in tutoring in college. Actually if you have a strong background in writing and you can get a job as a tutor I would say that tutoring is I would say it’s one of the best things that I did in college, to be honest.
I really liked the flexibility of the job. First of all for me, I would just basically sit down for a couple of hours a week in the library and students would book me for tutoring sessions. At times where I didn’t get booked, I would just sit down and do some homework or whatnot. But it was just a really cool way to get, to see a bunch of different classes and a diff in different subject matters that I wouldn’t have actually been exposed to.
And I feel like having to explain something that you might do intuitively honestly makes you a lot stronger at it yourself, because you have to talk through your writing process and actively think about everything that you say as somebody else about how to structure a paper, how to phrase a sentence, and it makes it come a lot faster to you.
And I also feel like when you’re tutoring, the pressure is off for you, right? So you’re just doing what you can to help somebody else. And that can actually lead to a lot of creativity and a lot of really cool discipline. And also just to get to know students that you might not ever interact with.
Otherwise they’re in a completely different major than you. So I really liked writing tutoring. That was my experience, obviously it’s different for everyone depending what you’re interested in. And there’s also in a similar vein, you can also be involved in major specific tutoring, right?
So if you’re an English major, you can work on particularly English essays. If you’re majoring in French, you can work on essays and French. You can work on, essays for partaking. If you’re interested in like revolutionary history, you can work on history essay is so there’s just a ton of different things that you can do.
In terms of writing. And you can either be very broad with just tutoring writing in general or focused on a specific subject matter. We actually even had science, writing tutors at Wellesley where people would particularly focus on how to write scientific literature and train particularly in that, and then help students.
So there’s just a number of ways that you can pursue writing and also get paid for it, which was amazing.
So now another thing that people start thinking about early on in college is internships. I feel like honestly, half of the battle is getting your first internship and then you’re just using the connections that you hold from then on to get your next position and talking about the experience that you gained in that first position.
So it’s honestly pretty hard to get your first internship, especially if you don’t have a ton of connections, So I would say just using all of the avenues that you do have at your disposal and taking advantage of the resources that you do have at college. So professors are a great resource.
For me, one of my professors actually worked at the new Yorker and and also I think the New York book review sometimes. So he was a great resource for me, like pointing me towards particular internships and things like that. So definitely building a relationship with your professors that have experience in a field can be very valuable.
Also departments tend to advertise internships that students, the students that are majoring in a particular topic. So definitely checking out for emails from the the department that you’re majoring in is another good way to get on top of things and be aware of opportunities and something that I definitely did not realize until probably I graduated.
I would say. Is how much former students that went to your college can actually help you get your first internship. So I have actually had two jobs so far. Out of college, I was working in consulting and right now I’m actually working in an anti-corruption nonprofit. And what was applying for my second job, I reached out to so many people who went to Wellesley before me, and they gave me so much advice about what careers I was considering and what specialties I wanted to get more into, and also just connecting with people that might actually be valuable in the future to ask advice to, or even get some help, trying to get a position from.
So I wouldn’t really say that. One of the best things you can do is make a LinkedIn cold message people just wanting to get to know them, asking about their career trajectory and seeing where it goes, because at worst, you had an interesting conversation and at best you have your next job, right? So I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to use the connections you have, and really just be proactive about asking because people that seem busy and, experienced and high up or whatever, honestly, are more willing to help you than you think.
And there’s no harm in asking. Also important to say is working in the writing and journalism field does not always pay a ton off the bat, surprisingly. So it’s definitely important to be searching for grants through your college and out of. As well as scholarship. So that way, when you’re working your internship, you’re able to be fully present and totally, have a time that you want to have to a lot to making a good impression and working hard.
If that’s a possibility, right? And then finally, a strong cover letter is usually essential to getting the internship that you want. So the advice I have on that is pretty similar to resumes, right? You want to have a succinct one pager usually no more than three paragraphs or four really using the first paragraph to talk about all of your major accomplishments in case you don’t read your cover letter all the way through and using that as a way to really tailor your skills and your resume towards the specific position that you’re applying to.
So making sure that you’re taking a look at the qualifications, they’re trying to have you Into and basically just tailoring your language to mirror what they’re asking for and expand upon them. Yeah.
Great. So we’ve spent approximately half of the presentation so far, just going through a tips and tricks around writing and journalism, both in high school and college and beyond. And now we can transition to some question answers. So it looks like we’ve actually gotten a ton from you guys. We have 10 or so from email, and then we have a lot that are coming in right now in the Q and a, so continue to send those, if anything comes to mind or if you have any new questions based on what we talk about today.
Great. So I will pull up the questions that we had sent to us in advance. I’m sure that we can get through all of them, but I’ll try to make sure to time it so that if anybody has additional questions, those can still be answered. Cool. So the first question somebody asked they said, I know very little about writing in journalism and would like to know the basics of it and what a career in that path would look like.
Great. So just to clarify my particular experience I tend to do a lot of writing at my job, but my job is not always centered around writing. Currently I work at a nonprofit, so I actually had an article published today talking about basically my organization’s experience, working with Dan foreign policy stuff and talking about the recent revolution.
So I would say like first off the bat, like there are so many ways that you can use your writing backgrounds for a number of positions. So I would honestly say not to rule anything out if you’re not sure about the exact type of job that you want to have later on. So there’s obviously the traditional jobs of working in journalism going into grad school to pursue a writing related fields.
But there’s also, there’s every other kind of job for the most part, like in consulting, I had to do a lot of writing and storytelling and I was putting together slides. In my current job, I have to write articles. I have to write newsletters. So there’s really not a limit to what you can use your writing for.
But yeah, those are a couple of types of jobs that you can use writing for. And there’s many others too. Okay.
Second question. Somebody said what can make you stand out as an applicant applying for a journalism major? So that’s a great question. I think it relates to some stuff that we hit already in today’s presentation. I think what it comes down to is essentially showing that you have an interest, first of all, and second of all, a background in writing and that can be formal or informal, right?
So if you have the chance to work at a school publication a local publication or even just write on your own and just show I am interested in writing, I have this account on medium, I’ve written five articles that can be something to just establish your experience. Also extracurriculars are great, if you can join some kind of a club center around books or writing, that can be something that’s helpful.
And then also references are great. Like I said before talking to any teachers or sponsors of an internship to establish that they also were interested in what you had to say. That’s great too. So the next question that we have today somebody asked if. Recommended to take online summer courses as a high school student for journalism.
So I like how you said online since we’re trying to be very COVID friendly here. But yeah, I would say that if you have the chance and you have the time and the money and whatever else, bandwidth to put behind getting more experience and taking online courses, I think that’s never a bad thing.
It definitely shows that you’ve been thinking about this for a while and build up your resume. So yeah, I would say absolutely go for it. And then remind yourself, that’s not the only way that you can get experience in writing. It’s just one of many ways.
So the next person asked how difficult is it to acquire a job in journalism, specifically in sports journalism? So I would say that it’s. Honestly a little bit challenging, but by no means as possible. So if you’re committed to this type of job and you want to go for it, I would say absolutely do it.
And then a couple of things of advice around that. So when I was trying to figure out my next job, when I was transitioning from consulting, I actually spoke to a couple of reporters that went to Wellesley and they gave me the advice that the journalism field has changed a lot recently, it’s just so easy for anybody online now and social media on any platform to just write, their feelings and a blog post or an article on a current event. So it can be hard to stand out when the environment is so inundated. And there’s also been a shift towards brevity.
In writing and kind of this sort of Buzzfeed ask approach, in journalism, a lot of times they speak about the reverse pyramid principle, which is basically like the first sentence of the article should explain 80% of what you want the reader to take away and go from there. The first paragraph shows 90% and then each subsequent paragraph is less and less important.
And a lot of articles stay or six or seven paragraphs max. So writing has definitely shifted and it is hard to stand out. But if you want to get involved, there’s a number of ways to do so one thing you can do is just make sure that you’ve start practicing early in building up your portfolio.
So that can be through writing for your school publication. First of all and writing on your own blog and things like that. But also, if you want to be branching out and working in journalism full time, obviously being a PA obviously applied to, these media companies like CNN, ABC, et cetera.
I had a number of friends that actually interned there over the summer. But if you want to just get your first experience out of the way, I would say looking into local news reporting can be a great way of actually getting more attention and mentorship, and then building your experience and then working your way into whatever publication or, level of reporting you want to get to next.
Okay. So the next question for today is what is the best track for broadcast journalism? What questions should you ask yourself to determine if you would be a good fit? So I think that a lot of jobs in the journalism fields do particularly search for certain majors. To show that you’ve been developing this broad experience of writing on it on different topics.
Popular majors when applying to these type of jobs are journalism, obviously the communications is another big one. I’m an English major is actually something. They also look for a decent amount. So those are three areas of focus that you can have if you’re trying to prepare. And in terms of asking yourself questions, I feel like if you want to get into journalism, it depends on what type.
But I think something that you should be doing is really asking yourself are you able to produce content on a regular basis? Like some people might be more interested in writing in a more academic sense in a longer term, like an academic article, it’s 20 pages or something, but a lot of times in journalism, you have deadlines where you have to be constantly working late hours and producing four or five articles.
And another thing that people do when they start out is people often have to work super early and monitor the news cycle for their bosses and get on top of, what’s going on first. So a lot of times you would have to actually get up at four or 5:00 AM to start recording on the news.
So just that those are a couple of things to keep in mind as in terms of what it’s like to break into the field. And I think the best way to know if you’d be a good fit is to try it. It seems like if you’re in this webinar and you’re, doing a couple of extracurriculars, you already know that you have it as an interest.
And I would say just joining a local newspaper during the summer, or, working at a school publication will get you a better sense of whether, you’d be a good fit long-term. And then in terms of if you want to be presenting on air and things like that there was a couple of people that I knew in college that did that as well.
And they all seem to enjoy their experiences and stuck with it. It gets back to what I was saying before in terms of the long hours monitoring the news early and definitely definitely I think it helps if you’re a people person, you like, interviewing a bunch of people asking questions and it’s something that you can definitely build comfort in over time.
But as a baseline, that definitely helps in terms of personality traits.
So next question, somebody asked, what advice would you give a high school underclassmen interested in majoring in communications or journalism? What are job opportunities after college? So I think we’ve gotten into this a bit already in the presentation in terms of advice, obviously everything we’ve gone through in terms of what you can do during high school, what you should be thinking about in the future.
Is relevant here. And again, in terms of job opportunities, it’s pretty much limitless, right? Obviously there’s the traditional ones working in journalism, working in academia. But there’s also just roles at almost every organization where they require there to be content generation and, social media podcasts, things like that.
So at my organization currently, we actually have a communications department. So we have a couple of people that are constantly basically helping out the staff with their newsletters, for their teams interviewing people for podcasts creating designs and branding materials. So pretty much, you can specialize it in it and go particularly into the news and be working on all that directly.
But you can also be working at any different type of organization you want to and driving their external outreach. So it’s definitely very broad and very multifaceted.
Okay. So the next question somebody asked, what are some writing careers other than an author or newspaper writer? How long and hard is it to pursue a career in writing and journalism? So on that I’ve gone into already a number of different ways that you can pursue things after college with your major in terms of how long hard it is to pursue a career.
It depends. There’s a lot of people that are writing at night as the, into newspapers that went straight through college, got an internship and got the job. And there’s other people that after a year or two out of college, they decided they wanted to get a master’s degree and specialize more in journalism particularly.
And that’s also a route that you can go down Yeah. So it just depends on what your level of commitment is and what jobs you’re getting off of, out of the gate when you leave college and where you want to be ending up. Ultimately I know actually my favorite writer right now is this guy at the Atlantic Derek Thompson.
I don’t know if any of you guys are familiar, if you are, feel free to chime in, in the chat. But he just is amazing the way that he writes and takes a modern issue and makes it really interesting and unique with his approach to describing it. And just has a very interesting way of branding his work and making it engaging because he also has a background in marketing.
And I know that he actually got his master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern, I believe so. Yeah. There’s just a number of things that you can do depending on your level of interest, your time finances but just seeing what your job options are after college and then making a judgment then I think is the best way to approach it.
And then they also had been asking the average money that is made in a year. So I think that honestly, if you’re interning and writing in journalism, a lot of times you are working unpaid which sucks. But that’s how it is in college. A lot of times, obviously you want to be applying for scholarships and grants.
And then out of college it can really vary, like there are some writing jobs where you’re making like only, 30 or 40 K other ones where you might be making up to 80, if you’re doing, copy editing or a content generation at a major company, so it is all over the place.
Writing and journalism tends to start on the lower side of things, but ultimately people that major in communities tend to be making roughly the same as people that majored in stem in many cases, which I found to be interesting. So yeah. That’s the range The next person asks what is daily life like as an author?
What all can we do to pursue it in a way that it looks good in our application? So I and not an author, but from what I know, it can definitely be very hard to be, pursuing a career as being an author right out of college. I do talking to strangers on train. So one time I actually was talking to this lady on an Amtrak where she just seemed to look very interesting.
No, she brought a jam jar full of wine, and she had this Manila folder and I just asked her what was inside of it. And she told me that she was a mystery writer for her, she was actually working as a professor and she had kids and it was something that she done on the side. And that tends to be a lot of way that people start out writing, First job to make their primary income and they build up their portfolio and right when they have extra time and she seems to really be happy with the way that her life had turned out in terms of transitioning more to authorship full time.
It can be very grueling, because when you’re taking a class that’s stem, there’s always a right answer eventually to a problem for the most part. Maybe not the case in higher level classes. In writing this, it never ends, right? Like you’re constantly revising writing.
You have to really build in time to your schedule. There’s writer’s block. It’s unpredictable sometimes how much you’re getting done. So I think really getting practice and setting aside time every day can be one way that you can build up your your ability to push through and generate content on a regular basis, or to get up to the point where you have an entire book written in a couple of months or a year, or, longer.
Yeah. The next person said, how can they make their application stand out through their interest in writing in journalism. So I think that also gets into what we’ve talked about already. But again, I think things that you can really do to make yourself stand out is tied together all of your various experiences into a cohesive whole and actually reach out to the colleges on your own, to follow up and show your writing skills by sending them more the next person asks what are the best ways to get your works published? So that’s a really good question. Something that I have found to be true is when you have professors that are already connected in certain fields if they believe in you and if they work with you a lot those professors can be great allies in terms of getting your work published.
Also just applying to as many contests as you can, right? If you have a work that is very general and would apply to a number of different problems or different contests, just sending it out. And once you start to build up your your awards, then it can be easier the next time to build up a rapport with certain magazine, or just generally show off your accomplishments and get your foot in the door in the future.
So yeah, just applying to as much as possible and not being afraid of rejection because what might be rejected by one magazine might be accepted by the next one. You never know. So just definitely making sure that you have a sense of, internal self-worth and just applying to as much as possible.
Cool. So next person asked how many reviews do you do before moving on or considering a work finish? So I think that really depends on the type of work that you’re creating, right? If you’re somebody that’s working on a newsletter sometimes you want to just give it a once over twice over and get it out the door depending on how much time you have.
And that can be really valuable in terms of just showing that you’re efficient and doing your job and getting it out. On the other hand, if you’re working on something that’s longer term like an article or an elaborate essay that can require a number of rounds of edits. For me personally, I would say I would probably review my work at least four or five times before submitting it over the course of a day or two.
There’s different types of editing, right? There’s the content editing and the structure where you get advice from one or two people. A lot of times your professors and make sure that the flow of it and the major argument behind it makes. And then there’s the finessing of your word voice.
There’s the copy editing, making sure that everything is grammatically correct and there’s no typos. So that can take a while. It’s definitely good to start early if you can. But not everybody works that way. Some people tend to like to write everything all at once and then go back and edit. So it definitely depends on personal preference.
So next up, somebody asked what are the best writing competitions to compete in to get recognized or published? So there’s a couple of really cool writing competitions for high school students. There’s the young Alliance fiction award where the award is actually up to $10,000. There’s five finalists that are recognized and one actually takes home the prize.
And you basically can submit a novel or a collection of short stories. If you don’t have the time to do something elaborate like that, there’s also something called the 53 word story contest. The deadline for that is actually the 21st of every single month and it’s free to apply. So basically you have to respond to a prompt with a 53 word story which is a very cool challenge in my opinion.
There’s also the adroit prizes for poetry and prose. And people can submit basically up to six poems or three works or pros. And even if your work doesn’t receive a prize, you can still be published in the journal. So basically you can do your own research in terms of top contests for high school students.
There’s a ton of things out there, and I feel like there’s no harm in applying to contests. At best you get money and recognition at worst, you get experience, those are a couple of things, samples. Somebody asked how to improve their writing skills. And that’s a really good question.
I think it depends on where you are in your process. If you’re in high school early on, or if you’re in college I feel like one of the best ways that I strengthened my writing skills was to read far and wide. So just be reading whatever it was in the news that day on like the Atlantic, the new Yorker, et cetera.
Reading in general honestly helps a time. Also getting to know your teachers and asking them for more in-depth advice after class can be a great way to get more in-depth feedback without having to paying anything extra. And actually some colleges offer a specific writing classes.
Where do you want to just focus on writing and strengthening? Cool. So the last question that we had come to us online somebody said I’m interested in scientific writing. I was wondering if this can be touched on during the webinar. So yeah, for sure. I love nonfiction writing. I guess that’s what I do.
Nowadays when I’m writing articles on international relations and things like that. So there’s a number of things that you can do to get more involved in that. So there are like one of the commentators mentioned some are courses that you can take in terms of journalism and writing about, just non-fiction books and things like that.
I actually took a nonfiction writing class in college with a professor named Lauren Holmes, and she actually has a number of books out that are really interesting and has novellas and things like that. So you can take classes in the school you end up in and then just making sure that you expose yourself to a variety of writing styles and content by like finding your top five publications, bookmarking them and making yourself a promise to read one article at each every single day.
Cool. So at this point I’m going to launch a offer for you guys, just talking about essentially what we do here at bullseye. So obviously at bullseye we do essay editing. So I’m going to send you guys an offer. And it’s been a really cool to work with bull’s eye so far.
Because it’s something that I feel like gives students this great experience of just jumping into the writing process with people that have been through everything before in the last couple of years. So if you want to get help on your college applications for me Caitlin or any of our other advisors we have two advising plans.
The starter plan, the scholar plan they’re both monthly subscriptions where you can get matched with an advisor of your choice and you get one or two hours of one-on-one advising each month. As advisors, we will work with you on your college essays choosing schools, interviews, and a ton of other different components of the process.
Like it would just be on the common application. So I’m sending everyone at this panel, this link to get started. We’ve actually had clients get into all of the Ivy league schools and every top 25 school in the country, our clients rate us a 9.8 out of 10. That’s because advisors put a ton of care into working with you.
One-on-one through every step of the process. If you want to discuss one-on-one with me, it’s a great chance to work with us. So I think really what I like about working at bullseye is that most of the tutors here are recent college grads. And we just went through the process ourselves and can talk about, upstate information about what it was like what we learned and how we channel our interest into what we’ve done in the past few years.
Since graduate. So it is nine o’clock now. So if you need to leave feel free to get on with whatever else you need to get done today. But I am going to answer a couple more questions because we got a lot even during the course of this presentation. So I just want to give everybody a chance to get their question answered.
I don’t have anywhere to be, but if you guys need to go I’m sure there’s going to be a video of this webinar that’s sent around. So yeah, I’ll jump into the Q and a now. So somebody asked how can I make my writing section college apps. Good. So I think this kind of gets into what we were talking about throughout the presentation.
It looks like this question was asked 10 minutes in. So I think we pretty much covered, different things that you can do both informally, formally clubs, competitions, things like that. So we’ll get onto the next question for time sake. Somebody said, what type of journalism do you do?
So basically in college I was and English and policy major. Like I mentioned before, I did a couple of things in college related to that. So I did the Wellesley English magazine or literary magazine rather. I did writing tutoring and the globalist international relations publication in the summer my jobs always involve writing, but they were never specifically focused entirely on writing.
So my first job during college, I was actually working at the nonprofit where I work now. Essentially what I do now is I’m a program associate at this anti-corruption nonprofit. So I’m working with particularly countries in Africa. Right now my team is focusing on Kenya, Nigeria, and Sudan, and we’re basically working on anti-corruption programs there and doing things like training of trainers sending out newsletters, doing webinars things like that.
So it’s been really cool. It has involved a lot of writing just inherently through this sort of communications that we have. And also in college, I actually interned at the department of justice for two years. And that was really cool because I was actually helping lawyers work on their case strategy and like briefs and things they were writing.
So that experience actually involves investigations into corrupt American politicians and businesses. So we had to do things like listen to FBI phone taps, rap records, look at bank records that people that were under investigation and take all this information and then put it all together in terms of the formulating, the case against somebody.
So that was a really cool way to take the sort of narrative storytelling aspects that I had been learning about and putting it into practice. And then out of college, I worked as a consultant. I was putting together presentations for different healthcare companies and that also surprisingly involved a decent amount of storytelling and anecdotal kind of skills when you’re trying to put a bunch of information onto a small amount of slides.
And I would also be working on things like blog posts to get the name out in terms of the type of things that we were working on. So yeah, that’s how I have channeled my background into my current career. So the next person asked in my essay is how can I outline my passion about writing other than just giving my statistics and bragging.
And yet that’s a really good question. Like it’s super important to talk about all of your accomplishments, but you don’t want to eat overstate at the same time. And just let them speak for themselves only. So I think what worked for me was I would try to focus my, I would try to get my stats just on paper as they were, but I tried to focus my writing about writing to be more around, like my passion and my interest for it, and like experiences in my life where writing really helps me versus writing about my accomplishments, if that makes sense.
So that’s that’s one piece of advice I would say in terms of just communicating your interests without overstating it Somebody asked if there was any recommendations for writing competitions or activities. We’ve gone into that a bit earlier yeah, feel free to reference that the next person asked I’m taking rigorous writing courses, but am not as impressive as other students.
So how will I compare when getting recommendations? I’m trying my best to appeal to my teachers. So I would say it’s pretty subjective, what impressive means. But I think teachers are not expecting you to be a professional writer at this point, they’re expecting you to be improving and showing interest.
So I think the best thing that you can do is just getting to know your teachers, if you can, after class asking them questions and just working with them to improve over time and taking chances in terms of the types of things that you’re writing about to try to communicate a little bit.
The next person asked when visiting the schools and driving through them, how did you submit a letter? Is there a section in college admissions to send letters or something? Yeah, that’s actually a good question. So if I remember correctly it wasn’t like I went through my application necessarily to write to these colleges.
I actually just went out on my own hand, wrote a letter to personalize it and just sent it to the admissions offices and found an address. And it worked really well for me. Like I was actually in my college applications process cause I applied to so many colleges of all types. I was on the wait list for a couple of schools.
And by following up and writing letters, I got off with every single waitlist that I tried to get off of. So again, I think I cannot understate how important it is to follow up and a right to be a school. In a personal way and just communicate what you’ve been doing since you applied and how strong your interest is for a school.
The next person asks what writing clubs can I start? We already have journalism. Honestly, there’s just so many different types of ways that you can incorporate writing into a club. I think it goes back to what I mentioned about the type of clubs we had at Wellesley, right?
Like we didn’t have just the school paper, we had tons of different types of publications, like international relations, papers, colony papers. And then you can also just orient your writing club in the adjacent way to making a book club or making a, a pros club, a poetry club, anything that you find interesting, I would say absolutely.
Go for it. Okay. So next question. Somebody asked, how do you create magazines and newspaper articles to publish on a school website or something? So I, if I understand this question correctly this person is asking like, how, like where is the best place to publish your articles? So I think usually if you’re trying to write an article for a school website there would be a platform that your school is already using, which you would then interface with that particular club in order to set up your article to be processed, like to be formatted a certain way.
So yeah, I would just figure out which kind of applications that your school is using. And there’s also a number of websites, like medium, where you don’t have to be verified, but you can just post articles on your own and figure out like basic things about formatting and branding that way.
Yeah. Somebody asked, is there any good tutoring for English that we can tutor students? So I think if I understand that question correctly, you’re asking like, if there is ways that you can tutor students in English. And I, at my school, we actually, in my college, we had this program where you’re tutoring students in English.
That was separate from writing tutoring. We did have like sensitivity training where we try to understand how like people from different countries might write differently. But also there’s like particular programs that were set up to help students improve in English. So that’s also another type of job that you can have when you’re in college.
Somebody said so many questions and yeah, there’s definitely a lot of questions. I’m really happy about it. Because it shows that you guys are really passionate about writing and wanna learn more. So this has been great. Two more questions to go. Thank you so much to anybody that is staying over time with me.
So the next person asked is creative writing a good course to take in high school for an aspiring journalist? I would say absolutely. Creative writing is such an amazing way where you can develop your own style as a writer. And like when you’re in journalism, you need to be portraying situations in a way that sort of stands out and engages gate as the reader.
So I think like being able to write creatively and learn different formats can only help you when you’re trying to be a well-rounded journalist. And we have one more question. So if you guys have any last questions, feel free to send them now, before we wrap up. But the last question that we have right now somebody said, do you feel as if you weren’t prepared for a career in writing, in other words, do you feel like you took advantage of all of the opportunities that you were offered in college internships, et cetera, or on the flip side, do you feel that you were not offered a sufficient amount of opportunities to properly guide you?
Did your university provide an adequate amount of resources? So that’s a very broad question and definitely, it was a personal question. But I would say, I think that. All of the resources were available to me. And it was up to the student to actually learn more about, about them and take advantage of them because not every professor is going to tell you about all the opportunities that are being offered.
So for me personally, I felt like one of the best things that I did for myself in college. And it was because I was at, a smaller school where this was an option and it depends on where you go to school. But getting to know the professors was so valuable for me to building up my skills as a writer and really getting personalized attention for people that were amazing and so experienced.
The first class I ever took in college was a course called Supreme court shapes America with a former lawyer. And it was a very intensive writing course. And I feel like through that class, I really got to know my professor and she made us meet with her multiple times. And she saw that I was very interested in like the writing and editing process and she was actually the person that recommended me to be a writing tutor.
So that played a big part in everything that happened in my life that came after. And I think there’s still, as soon as a professor knew about that, you might not actually know about or be seeking out. So that was one thing that I thought was really good, that happened to me, which is that I got to know my professors and got a lot of them individualized support and connections from that.
I also had grant and scholarship programs at my college and they were advertised to us a decent amount enough that eventually I ended up applying to one and that kind of helped me when I was looking into get paid for my work over the summer. So I definitely felt like it was a good that humanity of students still were able to have resources that allowed them to pursue internships that were not always paid very well.
So that was great. We also had a lot of different clubs that I felt were able to have helped me develop my understanding of what kind of writing I wanted to do. Like Wellesley had I would say over 200 clubs and we’re small, so it’s probably like that much or more at every other college.
So in terms of that I felt like all the clubs I was part of took it fairly seriously and upperclassmen were really good at mentoring me and like showing me the ropes. And then the last thing is that we had a career resources program at Wellesley where you can go in and get advice specifically about your career.
And I felt like that wasn’t always it was helpful sometimes, but I wouldn’t say it was as helpful. Really getting to know people that went. So Wellesley went to my undergrad institution for myself and getting to ask them about what it was like to work in journalism and work in fields that were heavily writing centric.
So I would say even if you’re not always satisfied with the career services that you have and you want to ha if you want to learn more about, more fields that are available well from that again, like literally spending a couple of hours on LinkedIn filtering from the people that went to your college and reaching out, I think is an amazing thing to just hear more about every type of field that you’re connected and build up relationships really early on, that you probably won’t need until way later.
So honestly, I feel like just building up things now for you guys when you’re just getting into colleges. So important. So that by the time you might actually need something, you might need a reference, you might need. I’m a foot in the door for a company you’re already like leaps and bounds ahead of people that are in your position.
Great. Last question. Very articulate. I can tell that you’re a good writer. And yeah, it looks like we’ve gone into the end of the questions for it today. We had 30 plus questions overall, which was very appreciated at this really brought me down memory lane in terms of thinking about, all the times in my life that writing really was something that I was drawn towards and really just made me feel like I was, like a happier person because I’ve been a more fulfilled person.
And just helped me like with every kind of avenue of things that I’ve pursued since. So yeah, again, if you guys are interested in getting individualized advice tutoring on particular essays, or just your general college strategy feel free to book me or any of the other awesome tutors that we have here at bullseye.
And I wish everybody here the best of luck in your application process. I know it can be super stressful. Trust me, I applied to 20 schools. My winter break was more work than the school leading up to it. I think it was all worth it in the ends. And I hope everybody stays safe. For those that are, In areas that are very affected by COVID, I’m guessing a lot of you guys are doing school remotely.
So just remember that colleges are going to be all the more understanding nowadays about, the experiences that you guys have had and things that have interrupted your day to day. And I think now more than ever the writing that you do on your applications, explaining your situation and explaining your passion and your hope for the future is going to be so valuable in terms of getting you into the schools that you want and figuring out what you want to be doing with your life.
So next up for our webinar series, we’re going to be talking about the visual arts architecture major that’ll be happening soon on October 17th from eight to nine. It will be presented by Phillip hue from MIT class of 2016. So it looks like we were overlapping in the Massachusetts.
Boston area for two years. So I hope you guys will check out that webinar too. And thanks again for taking the time, have a great night guys. And then finally, as you can see on the slide this webinar has been a part of the M spike series talking about tons of different ways that you can stand out in your college ops.
So it looks like we have about 10 more to go. So you can check out this list and sign up for any other ones that you guys are interested in. Yeah. Again, have a great night guys and we hope to see you at our upcoming webinars. Thank you. Yes.