ACP (Associated Collegiate Press) Conference 2023: Developing Careers

For those of us completely immersed in our (third or fourth or fifth) careers, it’s eye-opening to sit through a session on what employers are seeking in today’s job market. Which is why the first session I attended at the three-day ACP (Associated Collegiate Press) 2023 Annual Spring Conference here in San Francisco was such a fascinating experience.

San Francisco State University Journalism Faculty Advisor Laura Moorhead’s superb no-olds-barred approach to telling students in her “Striking a Balance: Meeting Student Needs in a Changing Profession” session what they face in seeking internships and jobs addressed the situation in our rapidly evolving journalism environment—a situation captured nicely at the collegiate level in a publication I read recently from the Student Press Law Center (“Nothing Is Going Back to the Way It Was: Creating Economic Sustainability for college News Organizations in 2020 and Beyond”) and in Jill Lepore’s “Does Journalism Have a Future?” piece in the January 28, 2019 issue of The New Yorker. And it also, without doing so overtly, served as a primer for anyone thinking about applying for work in a very competitive market by reminding us how much has changed in terms of how employers approach the hiring process.

The long-held belief that our résumé is our initial calling card took a bit of a beating when Moorhead told students that media employers first want to see your portfolio—preferably online. And then “you will be Googled, Slacked, and views on LinkedIn and social media….No one we talked to cared what your résumé looked like.” It’s all about the published clips you have acquired through hard work and creativity; they are looking to see how you pursue  stories, not what technology or social media platforms you have mastered, she said.

Some of the skills sought by media representatives carry over into many other industries my colleagues and I serve through the training-teaching-learning opportunities we design and facilitate: teamwork and collaboration; flexibility, follow-through, engagement, and effective use of social media. But it involves far more than simply saying you are active on social media or can make great videos—it’s what you do with those “basic skills” that separates you from the numerous other candidates with whom you are competing in our extremely competitive job market.

“A good clip can trump other weaknesses in an application,” she has heard from her media contacts. They also look for awards you have garnered and elements of diversity you bring to a workplace.

In another example of skills that go beyond what applicants for internships and jobs often overlook, she mentioned that a candidate’s ability to take feedback and to respond effectively to uncomfortable topics makes that candidate very appealing.

There was—and is—plenty for an applicant to absorb from what Moorhead offered. And there is, notably, plenty for any of us involved in training-teaching-learning and lifelong learning to absorb—and share with those we serve—a great reminder that as we foster learning, we learn along with our learners. And everyone is the better for having traveled that road together.

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