At the risk of sounding like someone’s grandma, I’m going to lay an … “in my day … ” on you.
I was asked to speak to second year journalism students at Brisbane’s Queensland University of Technology this week about how to best use a blog to kick-start your career.
Which, when I thought about it, was TOTES HILAR for a number of reasons.
1. Most of the people in the lecture theatre were young enough to be my children.
2. A fair percentage of them took notes on their Apple Mac Air notebook computers. This is the Apple computer we had at home (to share among five) when I was at uni.
3. They were enrolled in a subject called Online Journalism.
In my day ... we studied print, radio, TV … straight up. None of this “on the line” malarkey.
If someone had told me 25 years ago I’d be an independent publisher, writing about whatever I like, whenever I liked. And that it would be read by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, I would have told them to stop drinking so much goon* … I was unlikely ever to become a Packer or a Murdoch because I was more interested in my next Country Road purchase.
But strangely that what’s happened. While I’m no Packer or Murdoch, I have become an independent publisher. I write what I like, when I like and it’s read by an ever-increasing audience.
And that dear Stylers, is the power of blogging.
So, how does that apply to today’s journalism students?
To put it simply, students have the power to be their own marketing managers. Their personal blog can be the “brand” they want to put out to the potential job market. It can give them an edge on another student, even when applying for internships.
In my day … potential employers only had my type-written CV, some clippings of published work and an interview to go by. Today, employers can – and are – Googling you long before they’ve invited you into their offices to ask about where you see yourself in five years.
And in that Googling, what are employers going to find out about you? Will they be impressed by your “voice”, your passion for fashion photography, cooking, your love of a good rant or will the just find a random Tweet about your disdain for a telco company.
And if you’re long past student age or inclination, then this is worth thinking about too. You don’t really know who’s reading your blog, Tweets or Facebook updates. Opportunities – freelance writing gigs, sponsorships, book deals – present themselves every time you make an electronic communication.
… and that would never have happened in my day.
I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from current students and recent graduates:
My blog was more of a support system rather than the driving tool (to getting a job). People visited my blog to see my writing and my online portfolio. www.shitika.wordpress.com
Always be true to yourself, let your blog reflect your personality. Don’t create an online persona because at the end of the day, who you are in reality is who is going to get you the job. www.katesinmelbourne.com
It (my blog)already has helped a lot with getting internships at an American company and now at channel V. www.poptrashaddicts.blogspot.com
Create a blog about something that interests you to give you some experience in writing for a medium that is not solely news based. www.freshoptimism.blogspot.com
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of technology related blog posts I wrote get picked up by the Australian tech news publication Delimiter. www.matthewhatton.id.au
Are you a current student or recent graduate? Has your blog helped you get a foot in the door for your future career? Are you long graduated? Has your blog opened up new career paths you couldn’t have thought up no matter how much goon* you had consumed in your uni years?*goon is an affectionate name we attached to wine that came in a large, shiny, silver bag. The bag was encased by cardboard, which we removed before entering the uni bar, stashing the goon bag in our handbag. The contents of said shiny silver goon bag were then mixed with ginger ale bought at the bar for less than a $1 to create a cocktail only a poor uni student could drink, let alone love.