In Alumni News, Experiential Learning, Journalism

News media students met and learned from journalists who were once in their shoes

Six BYU School of Communications alumni met with current and pre-news media students during the News Media Networking Day. These alumni, all professionals in the news media field, interacted with students during an internship panel and one-on-one mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the panel was for students to obtain valuable advice on preparing for and securing a solid internship. The alums who participated in the internship panel shared information about internship opportunities within their organizations, as well as tips and counsel.

News Media student, Caroline Coppersmith, attended the panel because she was hoping to leave with a stronger resolve about her professional future. “I attended the panel because I’ve been wavering between journalism and other career options,” said Coppersmith. “I wanted to see if there were any internships that really seemed to fit me.”

Coppersmith shared that the panel was very informative. She learned that it is important for a student to know the specifics of the internship he or she is seeking. “Interviewers and employers want someone who is personally invested and isn’t just scanning and interviewing for a job. I also learned that even in an internship, extra work and time spent on the job is noticed and will increase your chances to get a job at the institution for which you intern.”

For McKenna Park, attending the panel helped her gain a solid idea of what her future career path may look like. She also learned the importance of networking and remembering to keep in touch with those connections throughout her career.

Learning about a prospective career path was illuminating for Park. She shared that she “learned that the most common path for successful journalists could look something like: graduate from college, intern at a bigger company you want to work for one day, then work for a smaller company for a while to gain more experience while keeping in touch with people at the bigger company, then eventually you will hopefully be qualified for a full-time position at the bigger company.”

Park said it was refreshing to hear career advice directly from professionals she hopes to one day work with, rather than a general career advisor. Later in the News Media Networking Day, Park had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Camille West, who works on digital content for the LDS News Department.

Along with West, the five other mentors also met with news media students for one-on-one sessions where they answered questions and shared intimate advice and information. Ron Bird, a news anchor at KUTV 2 News, and Don Hudson, an evening anchor for ABC4, Salt Lake City, met with students pursuing broadcast journalism.

Sarah Weaver, an editor at Deseret News; Morgan Jones, a web producer at Deseret News Digital; and Michael Richardson, a managing editor at Healthy Magazine met with students interested in print and digital.

During her mentoring session with West, Park shared that West counseled her to pursue her specific career goals but to also be open to other opportunities that may present themselves. West also told Park what she saw as West’s strong points so that West can emphasize those traits in future job applications.

“My one-on-one meeting with Camille West was amazing,” said Park. “She was so encouraging and filled me with so much hope and excitement for my future career. I plan on applying to her summer internship with the Church News soon and I feel like this meeting was a golden opportunity to get memorable, positive recognition with West before the application even opens.

“We talked a lot about that internship, as well as my current resume and portfolio. She talked about what stood out to her in my resume and portfolio as being especially good and what experience I can add to it to look even better before it’s time to apply to her internship. I left the meeting feeling confident that I can go places in the journalism world.”

Coppersmith met with Michael Richardson and shared how he told her that journalism is a great field for those who want to learn and write about a lot of different topics. He added that journalism is good for those who have interests that cannot be contained in one major and want to pursue them freely.

“He was very nice and informative and took the time to listen to my questions,” said Coppersmith. “We talked about journalism, specifically online journalism, as a difficult field due to the huge volume of articles and information online. He informed me that most online journalists have to rely on visual cues to get a reader to click on their articles.”

Experiential learning opportunities like these provide authentic, real experiences to help and guide students as they prepare for future careers and goals.

“My goals for a future in news media are to be able to participate in academic and culturally edifying, writing and research that will allow me to pursue what interests me in news, culture or history,” said Coppersmith. “Mr. Richardson helped me see what was possible and encouraged me to go forward with the major and possible internship even if I’m unsure exactly what I want to do.”

Park shared that she has what she calls “practical and romantic goals” for a future in news media. Her practical goals are to graduate from BYU with a communications degree and a few internships, get a job with a news company in Salt Lake City and eventually work her way up to a high position. Her big goals include working for a big-time news company, such as Time Magazine or The Washington Post, by reporting on social and environmental issues.

“The panel got me closer to those goals by helping me further realize what a realistic path to those companies might look like,” said Park. “In a very practical way, the panel and mentoring session helped me make connections that will hopefully help me land a stellar internship with one of the Salt Lake companies, which will hopefully eventually get me a full time job, which will hopefully help me climb my way up through the journalism career world.

“I think this was one of the biggest things the School of Communications could do to help students out with our careers. I’m so grateful they set it up, and I hope they continue holding similar events for future students. I have a feeling it will have a positive ripple effect on my lifelong career.”

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