Advice for students who want to work in any media industry

I’ve been asked to participate in a mentoring program for students about to graduate from college this coming weekend. In preparation for the event, I was asked to share the most important advice I have to give young people who want to work in the media industries. So here’s that answer…

The advice I give to my undergraduate students that I also got as an undergrad was to do as many internships as you can before you graduate. Internships are all about networking and getting an inside look into the industry you think you want to work in. Do them early and often and treat them with respect. Show up early, stay late, word hard, talk to everyone there. When you are a student, you can ask anyone for advice and people love to help. They were all once young too and appreciate ambitious, gracious, hardworking newcomers. Do your best work and let them see your passion. Ask good questions and be grateful for the time each person gives you during the internship. Then build on what you learned and the connections you made to get your first job and every other job after. Then help other people on their way in and up too.

The other piece of advice I give to my students – never stop learning. Read career/industry magazines, newsletters, websites and books. Take online courses and go to workshops. Go to industry organization conferences at regional and national levels. Get another degree or a certificate in something. It can be related to your current job or towards a future goal or in something unrelated. Be interested and interesting. It not only helps you from burning out, but it keeps your options open and reinvigorates you. I believe you have to love what you do or you should do something else. If you are always learning, it helps you love what you do and do what you love.

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