Updated: Apr 22
The pandemic undoubtedly transformed the job market. Cronkite Career Services sat down with a few of Cronkite Nation’s 2009 graduates who entered the job market during the Great Recession to discuss how to navigate a challenging hiring landscape while maintaining hope and optimism that a turnaround is on the horizon. We encourage you to apply these tips to your own job-hunting strategy.
Don’t Get Discouraged if You Don’t Immediately Land Your ‘Dream Job’
According to Mike Wong, director of Cronkite Career Services, it typically takes students an average of 16 weeks to find that first job.
“I always try to tell students who are getting ready to graduate, ‘Don't get discouraged because it might take about four months to get that first job,’” says Wong. “You know, they might get jobs a little bit earlier than that, but for others, they might take a little bit longer than 16 weeks. Try not to be discouraged.”
Especially during times of economic downturn, it could take graduates even longer to land their first job.
“It took me six months to find a job after graduating,” says Stephanie Clarke, vice president at Red Havas in Phoenix. “And while it wasn't necessarily my dream job, it did serve as a launchpad for my career. I got to work with so many of my fellow Cronkite grads who I'm still friends with today.”
“I just say, go in and have the mindset that you don't have to land the perfect job right out of school, but still make sure that you're doing something that you love because I think whatever job you take will teach you something valuable for your career.”
While students may have a crystal clear picture of where they want to work and what they want to do right after graduation, it’s important to be flexible; especially when you have bills to pay.
“It was a matter of not compromising what you know you want to do, and like, what are your non-negotiables,” says Amanda Chan, director of content strategy at Bustle in New York City. “And then what are you willing to compromise, like maybe expand which city I'm willing to live in, or maybe willing to expand the topic that I'm covering or something like that because you do have to give and take a little bit ... there's always going to be some element, especially in a kind of economy like this.”
Use Your Network
During your time at the Cronkite School, we encourage you to develop professional relationships with your professors and people you meet while working internships. When it’s time to start looking for that first post-graduation job, don’t hesitate to reach out to these people for help.
“You just never know when job opportunities are going to come up because of the people that you know,” says Erisa Nakano, executive producer, digital at Spectrum News 1 in Los Angeles. “That's something that I really appreciated about the Cronkite School through my internships and through staying in touch with Mike. I feel like all of my jobs came from people that I knew.”
Clarke agrees, and encourages students to continue developing those relationships because “you never know when one thing might lead to another.”
Know Your Value
Journalism can be a very competitive field, so it's understandable that students may compare themselves often against their peers -- especially around graduation time as more and more people receive job offers before even walking across the stage, but Nakamo advises students to focus on themselves.
“The biggest challenge I think at that time for me was making sure that I wasn't comparing myself to my friends … we're all very happy for each other it's not like we're jealous or anything like that, but I think at that time, I really got down on myself because I thought, wow, like he got a job before he even graduated, why am I not getting a job?”
Knowing your value is key when job hunting because it helps boost your confidence in yourself, and that really helps you stand out against other applicants who might have impressive backgrounds, but downplay their success because they don’t know their value.
“One thing that really helped me was just understanding that even if it is a bad market. I know my value,” says Jen Fifield, reporter at The Arizona Republic. “I know that it's more about you, personally, than the market and what you've done to build your contacts and internships you've had ... just continue to think about the skills that you have and what you offer to the places you're applying to.”
Turn Your Passion Into a Career; Don’t Be Afraid to Blaze Your Own Trail
There are more opportunities out there than it seems. Even if right out of school people are working in traditional newsrooms, that isn’t all you can do with your degree.
“My suggestion would be to think about what you're passionate about and see if you can turn that and monetize it,” says Fifield. “There's so many opportunities online to monetize your personal brand, whether it's through YouTube or blog or podcast or freelancing early on, you know, monetize and sell yourself and your skills and you guys coming out of school have such a good opportunity to do that.”
To learn more, stream the full interview with Stephanie Clarke, Amanda Chan, Jen Fifield and Erisa Nakano here. This workshop was originally recorded during the Summer 2020 Adapt & Conquer series hosted by the Cronkite School.
More About Adapt and Conquer:
Adapt and Conquer the new college and/or job market landscape with the Cronkite Career Services team and learn useful tips to help you navigate our new reality. Workshops are open to all Cronkite students and alumni, and are hosted virtually via Zoom.