Preparing for a Career in Journalism

Tiger Tracks for careers in Journalism

Mindset

Aspiring journalists have strong principles and insatiable curiosity. They find stories in life around them, keep their community informed of vital issues, and help illuminate the world in a new way for their audience. Successful journalists must meet deadlines, manage complex details, tell relevant and engaging stories, build and maintain relationships with sources and colleagues, and employ a clear, concise, and readable style in their copy. 

Courses

Major in the subject which most interests you, but strongly consider supplementing your major with a minor in Rhetoric and aim to take courses that require you to synthesize material through frequent essays and other written work. Also keep in mind the courses listed below and courses in literature, history, theater, and politics.

  • Principles and Practice of Good Writing
  • Public Speaking
  • Art of the Essay
  • Creative Writing
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Introduction to Photography

Programs and Extracurricular Activities

• Write for The Tiger. The student newspaper, published every other week, seeks student writers with a variety of interests. For more information, contact its editor at newspaper@hsc.edu
Writing Center Peer Tutor: The directors of the Writing Center select outstanding students each year to help fellow students with writing skills-while developing their own writing and editing skills.
WWHS: The student radio station broadcasts to the campus community and beyond. Student DJ's create and host shows and assist with the operations of the radio station.
• Working for the Communications Office: Talented students design and create publications for the campus community and assist in broader public relations efforts. Contact the College's production manager, Kevin Tuck, at ktuck@hsc.edu for more information.
• Working for the Farmville Herald: Ken Woodley '79 is the editor of the local newspaper. Contact him at editor@farmvilleherald.com.
• Several campus offices maintain a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn presence, and most welcome student assistance. The Hampden-Sydney Facebook page, for instance, is run by the special assistant to the president, who works with students and alumni to produce content for nearly 8,000 fans: social media accounts.  

 

Preparation for Employment

  • Internships are a vital way to develop your writing skills, build a portfolio of published clippings, and hone your journalistic instincts. Hampden-Sydney students have interned at newspapers, television stations, and in other media. Visit the Career Education and Vocational Reflection Office early in your academic career to begin researching the field and exploring possible internships.
  • Be your own publication outlet by reporting on issues that matter to you. In today's age of user-generated content, you can start a blog, create a podcast, or communicate through social media like Facebook and Twitter. These activities are especially helpful as future journalists will need to understand how modern audiences consume information. Here's a piece that might help:
    www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/06/what-skills-will-future-journalists-need160.html

 

Graduate Study

Both academics and professional journalists have debated for years about whether graduate education in journalism is useful, especially now as the field is changing significantly. There are good cases for either side, so prospective candidates must carefully research their options. Many graduate programs tightly focus on niche subjects within the larger field of journalism, such as sports journalism, so it pays to consider your interests carefully. You may also benefit from pursuing a more individualized path by taking other types of courses to improve your writing skills. For example, the Columbia Publishing Course offers a short-term summer immersion course that allows students to have direct contact with over 100 high-level professionals in the world of publishing and online media.