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People know the Syracuse network is great in the communications field, but it’s genuinely true. Beyond the ESPN names you recognize, SU does little things like offering its students and alumni a digital career shadowing and Q&A opportunity. Each week, a few SU alums get behind the @workingorange handle to field questions, describe their day-to-day, and talk shop about the field. Today, it was (miraculously and surreally) my turn.

Below is a crude, crude representation of the major conversations that happened. I will do my best to clean this up and offer some additional insight when I have more time—but I wanted to have a collection to post to the feed at the end of the day (in case anyone truly does care to go back and soak it in).

This is organized by general subject areas and not chronological order. Questions appear as tweets, my unprompted advice and theories do too. But my responses to the topics or questions are text for readability’s sake—I kept everything accurate to my language on Twitter though. So for that formatting…

“I started responding in the first tweet… | but I needed a second.” (Tweets are divided by a vertical line, language utilizes shorthand at times.)

For quick navigation:

Freelancing: Lifestyle | Job hunting | Success | Logistics

Other: PR | Social Media

Syracuse things: On campus advice | Alumni to follow

Ars-related

Have at it (and I promise, check back and things will get cleaner. I’ll even remove some TKs.)

 

Freelancing-related

Lifestyle

tktkt

“1—I can freelance w/o a need for clip building/breaking in now. I pitch to pubs I want to work with/ideas I want to flush out | 2—Journo/media never sleeps. WAY too easy to let it takeover. Must plan breaks. SAT is 100% off. After EOY lists, DEC freelancing was too | 3—Reward yourself even during the grind. If I sent 2 pitches, finished a report, edited a feature… I’ll watch Bob’s Burgers and have a snack | Last, wiser words than I offer from @jmkarmstrong http://jenniferkarmstrong.com/2014/01/06/freelance-writing-resolution-stop-doing-stupid-crap/ …. If you don’t need $, some assgnmts aren’t worth it.”

Job hunting

Risk—a good way to put it. If you want to ultimately end up as a journalist, entering another line of work can lead to potential alternate career paths. But—as a few tweets that followed that displayed—people take crazy job to job paths to end up happy. For me personally? HS soccer coach > SU hall director > intern > journalist > ?

“In an ideal world, posting tells you (URLs/attachment/etc) but… | In scenarios w/ e-mailed applications, I think I’d pick a format—with URLs—and just stick to it. 3-5 samples if unspecified… | Only say include full URLs as a fail safe. Don’t know what kind of e-mail client is being used, GMail hyperlinks may get funky”

“But any format works. For instance: “Why San Francisco Is Obsessed With Bulleit,” Esquire on 11/1/13. http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/bulleit-san-francisco-15686059 …

“With job applying, my default is always—”Why not?” Unpack that a bit… | Apply + hear back, you have a contact. An offer? You can explain situation, decline if needed. They LOVE you? Maybe job waits”

“I think the same general theory can apply to the question: “Can I apply for this job? It says I need x years of experience.” | And as a working theory, not sure there’s EVER a bad time to apply for THE DREAM JOB if you know what it is + they’re hiring.”

Success strategies

tktktk

tktktk

“My #freelance theories on pitching as student/new writer start w/ 1—willingness to do it (again, overcome fear of rejection/”it’s daunting”) | 2—Get to a point where YOU are confident it’s possible. How well do you understand the pub aiming for? Can you deliver what you promise? Etc | 3—OK, you’ve got an idea + are willing to send. Getting “in” with a big pub is not easy, but there are multiple ways to do it. For example..| Are you targeting the right editor (either topic-wise or career wise)? A select few writers work with EICs, but FoB/Web editors need more | Have you followed these people on Twitter? Oddly, while many won’t post a “We need writers/have openings” story, they’ll tweet the info”

“For a few longer-term approaches for an “in”—1) At @arstechnica (and personally at @TheAVClub @PopCandy) starting as a commenter can help | 2—Remember you went to school with really smart people. We all struggle initially, but in a year or two… you can pitch peers. Stay in touch. | And for the most obvious, yes, it helps to have some good clips to share. But the idea you’re proposing >>> the stuff you’ve done before”

tktktkt


Logistics

” First, my @arstechnica gig is contract. Many opps like this exist—permalance/freepaid/etc. | Pro: steady paychecks, freedom to pitch around, poss. more $ than staff rates. Con: you navigate things like benefits/taxes | Personally, I’ve had these arrangements since starting in journo FT. First gig was intern then fact-checking at @Wired at 25 | Then, I could be on parents’ health plan (h/t @BarackObama). Now pay my own premiums. Luckily in OK health, cheaper plans=OK | Bottom line, HIGHLY suggest freelancers find a steady paycheck gig to start (if pssble). Maintaining you > maintaining clips”

“I will start by saying the only places I’m writing for free: a school paper, a friend’s project (blog/sketch/script/etc.), my project. | Outlets who need skilled journos to contribute + want to be professional… they should pay you. Horrifying rates > no rate at all. | Shamefully, I’ll admit I’ve taken these horrifying rates in my two years of freelancing. Literally, I was once paid $0.03/word for a piece. | You learn quickly to take ideas elsewhere in the future. Good pubs of all audience sizes—luckily, have met these—will pay/compensate fairly | So yes, I’ve taken a little less for assignments where I get to attend a show as part of it or a little less for the bigger pub up front.”

“As for career-y money, journos rarely become millionaires (those that do inherit/make a movie?) But I lived in #SF w/ rates to actually live”

Other



Public Relations

“Know journo-PR relationship is sometimes tenuous but will say 1—I rely on PR intel fairly often… | 2—I have some standing PR relationships that help me do my job better (if I need sources for larger trend pieces, want tips on future items)”

“So, what do I like about these particular PR folks? 1—we’re honest with each other. Their e-mails to ME are obv. diff. from listservs I’m on | In return, I let them know if I’m just pitching a story, if I have an assignment, where things stand along the way, etc. | My best PR exp. are prob. when I’ve initiated bc I have specific needs, they help me, and in turn I want to work w them again | So for cold PR contact, actually, it’s like how journos pitch as a freelancer. Know my pub, know your idea could fit.. (1/2) | don’t be afraid to followup if I haven’t gotten back, but tread “pestering” line carefully. Give it a week? E-mail preferred?”

Social media

“‘SM-shy’ is interesting, will say there are days @nathanmattise is quiet bc of activity elsewhere 1/2 | But I’ve been lucky to use Twitter to interact with writers I admire or to engage with future sources (lots of bands)…| + I’d say Twitter may be the best place to learn of opps. in the field. Many editors/outlets post jobs/calls for pitching daily | Basically I feel like there’s no downside to reaching out on Twitter. Worst that can happen is no response/same as a cold e-mail”

Syracuse things



On campus tidbits

“Journalism specific—really appreciate basics I got from @twoprofs editing class+grammar slammer. Clean copy earns friends | Overall, SU—both in class/through activities, even my first job there—really emphasizes engaging with other individuals. 1/2 | And even as a work-at-home freelancer, I work with many diff. teams daily. Oddly, this setup may require MORE collaboration?”

Folks to follow


SU social media pros: @angelajhu (J.Crew), @DanKlamm (SU), @elanazak (WSJ)

Photogs/visual multimedia: @ajchavar (NYT) @andrewburton (everywhere, literally) @ashlitruchon (magazine in PHX) @HornMultimedia (WSJ) @mahalagaylord (Denver Post)

Writers/editors: @e_vb_ @caitlindewey @MagEGordon @ErinCarson @thebrandedgirl @MzJones

@jessieassimon @NDHopper @missmiscreant @JuliaTerruso @cityfitch @alexrab @sjvelasquez @jillathrilla

@stevekovach @asteriskerin @sharonclott @zschonbrun


Ars-related

It’s true. Ars Technica is a tech community with deep knowledge, much deeper than mine as a tech enthusiast but trained journalist. So when in these situations, rely on your resources: “Would say I’m lucky Ars community is so intelligent. Even tech I only vaguely understand, someone reading is an expert (1/2) | + our staff has MANY tech experts. I rely on them for insight I can share thru @arstechnica. Notice lots of RTs/reader comments.”

A straightforward chance to promote the brand you say? “I’d say @arstechnica definitely serves a wide variety of reader. There’s industry news, how-tos, magazine-style features 1/2  | For example: @Lee_Ars firsthand account of late 80s/90s ‘net geekdom http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/01/modems-warez-and-ansi-art-remembering-bbs-life-at-2400bps/ … … | that ran the same week as @joemullin‘s look at a landmark case in technology/copyright #Betamax http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/rewinding-to-betamax-the-path-to-consumers-right-to-record/ … #ComLaw.”

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