I totally get it, if I were a journalism employer I would want to hire a young college graduate who has practical knowledge. During the interview I would ask him or her, “Can you do this?” I might ask, “Can you do that?” I’d definitely question whether or not he or she could do this and that.
All that matters as a young journalist is what I can do. During internship interviews editors usually try to get an idea of just how capable I am to function in today’s media world. When they feel confident I’m not completely incompetent they might ask me what I’m interested in or even a question like “What do you think about this and that?”
I’m ready for questions that start off with “What do you think about….?” After all, being a college student and all I have taken a variety of classes that have opened my mind up to new information. The University of Colorado Boulder is great because it makes you take so many elective credits that really have nothing to do with the industry you’re going into. I can’t tell you the number of times my class on the Russian Revolution has come in handy or how often I use the information I garnered in Art History.
Even within my journalism program, 60 percent of class information is theoretical and 40 percent is learning practical skills. Furthermore, most of the classes that teach practical knowledge aren’t required. For instance, I didn’t have to take photojournalism, digital media or the data crunching class called CU News Corps.
Yeah, it’s easy to say journalism schools aren’t preparing students for the job market. But, that’s like blaming a man who teaches you about fishing, for your inability to catch a fish. I like that CU Boulder doesn’t require all student to learn multimedia skills, basics of programming, data and statistical skills and the basics of programing. These aren’t yet rudimentary knowledge all young college grads are expected to know. That makes those skills coveted. It also shows initiative that I took photojournalism and digital media. And, I fully expect to be less competitive than the student who took those classes and CU News Corps.
But, how competitive we are is not to CU Boulder’s credit or shame. Journalism students know the nature of the beast. Some of us seek opportunities to enhance our resumes like elective classes or internships. Others take their chances that the school’s curriculum which may include a couple flagship classes – like my reporting 3 class where I had to get an internship – will be enough. If I were a journalism employer I would know the difference between those two types of college grads and make the appropriate decision.