Category: Journalism


On a more serious note, here’s a link to an article that states one in two new graduates are jobless or underemployed. In the Mountain West region, that number is three out of five. The statistics get worse and more grim about the number of people working as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives vs. engineers. It’s not pretty. Or confidence boosting, unless of course you’re in a program like nursing.

I realize how lucky I am for a couple of reasons. One, I’m getting to do what I love. I’ve known since middle school journalism is what I wanted to get into. And, years later, here I am. The paper I work for may not be the most glamorous or have the reputation like The New York Times, but it’s a start. I’m willing to work up the ladder. And, several people I know have given up or are taking jobs that have nothing to do with their major. Make no mistake, I know I am extremely lucky to have a job in the field of journalism and to have found it so quickly. I’ve been blessed. But, I don’t think this was all luck that I happened to be hired.

Here are just a few thoughts. By no means am I saying I’m an expert in finding a job. But, I can only relate what I did and went through to try and help others.

Number one: Don’t give up. I sent in three to four applications a day for about two months. Every morning, I’d wake up, look at various jobs and apply for them. Probably 95 percent of them never got back to me at all. Believe me, I know it’s frustrating to see a lack of responses and interest. Just keep pushing. It’s not a bad idea to take a job in the interim, but don’t give up on what you want to do because you don’t find a job right away. Be persistent. Sometimes, the hardest thing is to get your foot in the door.

Number two: Don’t expect things to be handed to you. Yes, I would love to work for ESPN. No, getting the job of your dreams probably isn’t a realistic goal for your first job. Be willing to take a job that might not be your long term destination, but can help build your resumé and get experience. You never know who you might meet. For example, at the paper I’m working at, I found out one of the owners is an AP Sports Writer. I mean, I now get the chance to learn from someone who gets to cover the Masters and the Super Bowl every year. That, down the road, is probably going to be more valuable to me than starting out somewhere else. Be willing to work your way up to something.

Number three: Be willing to make a sacrifice or two. Look, we’re recent college graduates. We don’t have the long illustrious history. Be willing to move out of state. Be willing to go to a place that may seem less than idea. You have to think long term. I know someone who told me they only applied to jobs in Vegas and Reno. I asked why they didn’t apply for out of state and they said because they didn’t want to pay for moving costs. The same person is going to take a trip to Chicago because she wants to. First, a lot of companies will help pay for moving costs. Second, you’re willing to waste money on a vacation now but not invest in your future by moving to where a job is? I think that paying for a move if its in the field you love and can lead to bigger and better things down the road is a great investment. That’s just me though, I guess.

Number four: Network. Someone once told me they believed references didn’t matter because they will all say something good about you anyways. An even better piece of advice I received from a successful journalist I met was this: The only people who think references don’t matter are the ones who have bad references. Look, yes they will say something good, although you’d be surprised about how many people never actually ask someone if they will be a reference for them. But, consider this. If you’re references are professors, sure that’s going to seem average. If you’re references are say journalists who have reached the top of his or her profession, for example in my case, a Pulitzer Prize winner, someone who writes for ESPN and another award winning journalist, they don’t have to serve as references. In fact, most won’t because if you turn out to be bad, that looks bad on them. They have no emotional connection to me. I had to prove to them I was worthy of having them as a reference. Networking counts. They can also tip you in to other jobs, give you advice along the way.

Number five: If you happen to still be in college and reading this I have one major piece of advice: Get involved. I’m not talking necessarily about Greek life or clubs, although those are great things. I mean get involved in things that pertain to your career choice. Go above and beyond. Me? I worked for the student paper. I reached out to every guest speaker asking for a critique of my work. I did internships. I wrote for a paper in Wisconsin for a while. I did things that would separate myself from other potential candidates.

Number six and maybe the most important: Do something that you love. One girl told me she wasn’t in love with nursing but she didn’t want to stay in school longer and should just finish this out. Let me ask you this. Would staying in college another two years to find something that you can work in and enjoy for the next 30, 40 years be a bad investment? Would paying for an extra two years of school to find a career that you find fulfilling for the rest of your life be a waste of time? People can tell when you’re heart’s not in it. I had a choice of a couple places to go to. The one common piece of feedback I got from those places on why they offered me a position? I was enthusiastic. Of course, the skills have to show in the writing samples. But, what they said separated me was that they could tell I love journalism. That this is all I want to do for the rest of my life. That I am going to give everything I’ve got at it.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Journalism in the real world

Now that I’m a couple weeks into my job, I can safely say one thing. I love journalism. If I had a piece of advice to give to people I’d say this. No matter how long it takes you, find something that you love doing in college. Because, while the money might be good, working at a job you don’t like will wear you down. Every morning I wake up early. Not because I have to. But because I’m genuinely excited to go to work. I can’t wait to go out report, take photos, write stories and design pages. It’s thrilling. Every day is something new. And it’s so much fun.

This isn’t a job to me at all. It’s a hobby, an activity that I’m passionate about that I just happened to get paid to do. To any college journalist, don’t worry it’s not nearly as stressful as you think. When you have time to fully devote yourself to writing and reporting, you’ll find it’s easier than it might seem.

When people tell me they don’t like their major but they are too far along to change now, I wish I could tell them that they are making the worst mistake of their lives. Everyone should feel the rush of getting to do what they love every single day.

I can tell you that part of the reason I was hired was because he “can tell I’m excited, passionate and love journalism”.

The other thing I’ve learned is hard work means a lot. I know people always say that, but I had one person essentially tell me that they just wish they didn’t have to work to succeed. That bothered me. I mean, this is a place where hard work is supposed to help you get to where you want to be in life. And here this person saying that things should just be handed to them.

But, let me tell you something now, it may suck while you’re in college, but hard work pays off. If there’s one thing I did right at The Nevada Sagebrush, I hope it’s that my work ethic was solid. And you know what’s happened? Opportunities came. It may be at a small paper, but how many people have the chance to become an editor of a paper in their first job out of college? And opportunities outside the world of journalism are opening up. Why? It’s not that I’m more talented than anyone else. Trust me, I’ve got a long ways to go if I ever want to become a good journalist. But, I just am willing to throw everything I have at something. That’s apparently much more rare than it should be in the workforce.

So, while it may seem hard now, it’ll all pay off. Because if I can do it, anyone can.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.