I’d like to think that every day of my college career was an adventure and I never knew the opportunity that each waking morning would hold, however that would not be telling the whole truth. While much of the college experience consisted of trying out exciting new things, one area of my life remained unchanged and is still part of my daily routine today. Not one day of my time at school began without reading the campus newspaper. Whether it was just browsing the headlines, flipping to the sports section, and then completing the crossword puzzle in class – Syracuse’s flagship publication, The Daily Orange, was as much of a staple in my backpack as Scooby Doo fruit snacks and Formula 50 Vitamin Water. Perhaps I paid so much attention to the school newspaper because I was a Broadcast Journalism major, but I was not alone in my fondness for The Daily Orange as many students became familiar with the work of their favorite columnists and some future writing careers set their roots at the university level.
This week, the Nerd is here to advise students that a college newspaper job is a foot in the door for an up and coming journalist. Follow our steps to see how you can properly apply for and lock down a job writing for your school’s paper.
1. Get the words right. There is a general rule in journalism that you always get the names right. It applies to the first step of this guide. This means that you can’t misspell a bunch of words in your query, or that you can say the name wrong. Getting the name right means being polite and cordial. If you can get the names and words right, you are read for your initial query.
2. Get the query right. The newspaper business works much like the rest of the world – people want to see you in person. However, a good query and a meeting can put you leagues ahead of other writers applying at the college paper.
3. Showcase your skills. If you want to write for the entertainment section, write something entertainment related. The same is the case for news or sports. Editors want to see you can write well. Whenever an editor receives a piece, they almost always read it. If they like the writing, that writer will receive a call or an email. This showcases your talents. Many who want to be newspaper writers don’t even know what a complete sentence or headline is.
4. Study the newspaper. Understand its writing style and the topics generally discussed. If the editors liked your initial query, you can get the job by explaining what you liked in the paper, and what you could bring to the table.
5. Apply in person. It could be the beginning of a newspaper career. Bring your resume in and explain to the editors what you would like to do.
Some college newspapers can pay you quite well. Other newspapers won’t pay you in anything, except maybe a gift certificate. Regardless, a college newspaper job can open up a wealth of opportunities for a young writer. If you are responsible enough to balance your course work and a writing position that requires you to produce a few articles each week, then work at the campus newspaper may be a great fit for you. Join the Nerd next week as we debate the better notetaking device: the laptop or paper notebooks.