by Mei Prang
After going to school for so many years, finally being out in the “real world” can be a drastic change. Students are used to their routine of going to classes and working at their internship, but once they receive their college degree, what comes next?
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University prepares students interested in the broadcast field with the tools they need for a successful career.
Mike Wong, Director of Career Services, said many students start out with small-market reporting jobs. States in the northwest such as Oregon and Washington provide opportunities for those who want to work on air. Wong said if recent graduates want to stay in a large market, they most likely wouldn’t be working on camera.
Those interested in working in a large market have a better chance of getting a job as a writer or a producer. Although it is more difficult to get a job in a large city such as Phoenix, it is possible.
“We are the 12th largest market in the U.S. and so could a graduate start as a writer at Channel Three? Yes,” said Wong.
Kimberly Tobin graduated from the Cronkite School in 2010 and got a job straight out of college. She works as a weekday reporter, weekend anchor, and producer at KTVZ in Bend, Oregon.
Tobin said in an email interview that students going into their first broadcast job should expect to be nervous and excited.
“You can also expect to learn something new everyday, have your heart race when you don’t know if you’ll get your story done in time, make connections with people in the community, be touched by personal stories and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day,” Tobin said.
Although students at the Cronkite School are required to complete an internship, they usually do not get one after they graduate. Wong said that some companies have associate programs, where students work at a company for a certain amount of time and are guaranteed a job if they do well.
Anna Payan-Veomett, a 2010 Cronkite alumna, got an internship in New York with NBC Nightly News after she graduated.
“Because I wasn’t getting paid to intern, it made me work harder to prove to NBC that I would be a great employee,” said Payan-Veomett in an email interview.
Payan-Veomett currently works as a social media correspondent and assistant to the executive producer at The Bill Cunningham Show.
The classes and internships that students have during college can play a huge role in their future career. Many of the programs and equipment used at the Cronkite School are similar, if not the same, as those used at many professional news studios.
“My time at Cronkite prepared me better than I can really explain,” said Tobin.
She said that when she started her first job, she realized just how well the school prepared her. The camera she currently uses is the same one that she learned how to use during school.
“I was very lucky to have gone to a school that gave me real-life TV news experience. The staff and the program really prepare you for the news room,” said Payan-Veomett.
Both Tobin and Payan-Veomett were part of Cronkite NewsWatch, a newscast produced by students. They agreed that NewsWatch is very similar to how a real newsroom is run.
Students who are interested in a career in broadcast journalism should be aware that the industry can be tough at times.
It will be likely that graduates will have to move to another state for their first job. This transition can be difficult for some people.
Usually, students who are just starting out in the industry will have to work long hours, including holidays. Despite a long workday, the pay is not very good.
“Expect to work hard, crazy hours, and not to get paid!” said Payan-Veomett.
Tobin said that the people she knew that got a job straight out of school were passionate and willing to accept that they must first “pay their dues.”
Many companies also require employees to sign a contract for about two or three years.
Tobin said that her contract with KTVZ is almost over, and she does not know what is in store for her next.
In her experience, the start of her career was overwhelming, but she is glad that she stuck with it.
“Everyday got easier, more enjoyable, I set bigger goals and challenges for myself and I accomplished more than I ever thought I could,” said Tobin.
Life after Cronkite, or any other journalism school for that matter, is a big change. Aspiring journalists have a lot to look forward to, but must also be prepared to work hard in such a competitive industry.