Sunday, August 19, 2007

Get mentored, Get going - Young Journalists

Soon the summer breeze will still and autumn leaves daintly sneak onto the ground.

The din of chatter, excited screams, alongside dim faces: something stirs.

It's term time.

Another intake of enquiry minds looking for a career in one of the toughest, open-end career paths, the media.

I will be smiling as I ready myself for first contact. Academics will know that feeling, a weeny tinge of stage fright, and expectation. What will they, her, him, be like?

Huh! that grey hair has grown.

This time around I'm likely to feel a little bit different. My thoughts turn to the challenge, that the stakes need to rise. This for both an industry slow to catch up, but now trying, and for my own peace of mind.

There's nothing more enriching than to find new cohorts who crave the exchange of knowledge. I'll be asking, as I do, whether: "We can either do this, or we can go down the rabbit hole".

Here, nothing is scared. It was made by mortals and can be deconstructed and constructed anew. This year I will be seeking such a challenge myself looking to a PhD to indulge new lines of thinking and applications.

This year I also hope the essence, the new philosophy of journalism will be less unsettling.

Last year when I mentioned how as a print journalist you would have to acquire some skills with video, if you wanted your CV to be in the tray," next interview call back", the mood in the hall darkened.

Masters' student Kathy Land's blog captured the moment and afterwards in her blog.

Hello Kathy if you see this, I hope all's going well.

The job of a trainer/lecturer has many sides: knowledge broker, examiner, inspirer, friend. And in this rubik's cube of an industry, keeping up to date and being relevant with developments is a high priority to assist Kathy and her colleagues.

"Those who observe will learn from their surroundings. Those that look but cannot see will leave non the wiser". This gem I saw at a museum is so apt. Delicate, impressionable minds in the hands of professionals.

But there are some things, such as life experiences - a module within MBA - that we can't short circuit, but I like to talk about with students. Adhocly here are some observations and post it notes from my school of life.

1. Try and see lectures as a two way conversation. You too can contribute by asking questions. There's no such thing as an irrelevant question. But if you've read up on something, been curious about something in the past, ask.

2. Find a mentor or be grandfathered/mothered. Professionals in the industry love the contact with you, but at a convenient measured time. But please try not to start your email with "I'm looking for a job". It may on occasion work, but execs don't have a list of jobs in their desk waiting for you.

3. In Autumn when you're starting your career that's the best time to start looking for a new friend, a mentor - someone who you think I'd love to be like you. By July the following year, first contacts are a bit late and everyone else is looking for a job, so... yep you've guessed Mrs Mentor is receiving a fair few requests by now.

4. Unless you're Madonna or Brad Pitt, your email ( which is the most convenient form of first contact) will not be answered immediately. Don't despair.

5. Devise a one page easy-to-read, fairly professional web page or blog, which would be of interest to your mentor.Embedd the link in your email.

6. In your email; three paragraphs max. A simple header and a polite sign off.

7. Engage, engage, engage. Unlike your previous life where when the bell goes off it's a relief, the end of lectures should be the time for you to want to test some of what you've learned.

8. Party and make friends. We're not all doom merchants. Play is an important part of learning.

9. Over the years the dominant group in journalism Masters are women. Men are becoming thinner on the ground and minorities almost invisible. The industry hasn't changed to where it should be for minorities. I recall the push for sex and ethnic equality extensively in the late 80s. So if you're from an ethnic background you've got industry inertia to wrestle with.

10. Experiment, test, enquire, be positive. Life's experience is as it says on the tin, and you won't find that always in fron the the screen. And if I am around on campus, as many of you have done, lets chat.

Shashank when did you want for us to get together?

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