I often get questions or have people ask me questions about breaking into this business. I cannot profess to know it all but the truth is; there is no formula for success in this field. As in everything else in life–this industry is time and chance. It is literally being at the right place at the right time and being prepared to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself. I made a list of things that I’ve personally had to work on myself to keep afloat and to maintain gainful employment in my field. Check out some of the epiphanies that I’ve had :
1. Find Your Niche- Not every person can be the next Brian Williams (NBC News Nightly News Anchor) or Diane Sawyer; and why would you want to be? Find your niche! What is it that you can bring to the table or contribute to the field? Practice your craft and the niche that makes you special. I found that I like being a one-man-band and I am constantly working to perfect my skills to be effective with that.
2. Seek Counsel- No one gets anywhere on their own! My first TV job was at my local CW station in Florida and there I met one of my first mentors who would give me advice and encourage me in my career goals. I have also reached out to other journalists and news directors for advice, learned from my professors and I kept in touch with them.
3. Update Your Resume- Keeping your resume current and well put together is essential! This is not something that I was an expert at so; I asked none other than a Television Anchor about her resume and she actually sent me a hard copy. This was my first time seeing what a successful resume by a news journalist in the field looks like. I also got feedback from her on my own resume and demo reel. I also sought out another journalist from an organization that I am affiliated with National Association of Black Journalists; for help with my demo reel. Just ask! All they can do is say “no”. If so; move on to find another potential mentor.
4. Learn the art of Networking! Networking in this industry is truly an art. Everyone knows each other or someone that may be your potential employer or co-worker. Just the other day; I met a fraternity brother who is a Newscast Director at one of the stations in my town! Time and Chance! I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to be introduced to his news director. Websites such as Linkedin also help in getting introduced to people in the industry. Once you are connected with the right people be prepared to market you skills.
5. Apply for Fellowships- I have won several fellowships and awards that no doubt impacted my professional growth as a journalist. Most importantly, I gained new mentors and met new colleagues in the industry just becoming affiliated with the sponsoring organizations.
6. Added Value- Yes education is wonderful and it is a privilege to attend an institution and four years later you get a degree that you can hang on your wall. What will add value to your career in this business is your skill set. In the newsroom; It won’t matter if you went to class every day, and that you did well on your exams. What will matter is your social skills, work ethic, character and skills in the trade. Can you read, edit and write well? Can you do it fast? Can you do this under pressure? These are the things that will add value to your professional journalism career.
7. Have Faith! Have a little faith! “…faith as small as a mustard seed…”. You are the one that can define your own success! All successful people are only successful because they first believed in themselves. Check out these youtube series by Media Bistro called “My First Big Break”. I included a link to Wendy Williams’ journey in this industry below; but there are more that you can see. Also see the video on what it really is like to be a news reporter!
Got Questions? Tweet me @Fadia_Dame_Tele with #OneWomanBandit 🙂