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Video Journalist Today

What's it really like trying to find work as a recent journalism graduate?

By Emily Burley
Originally published in Hijacked.com.au on March 2, 2015.

ImageThere used to be a perception that a university degree would result in a bright job future. You’d put in three or four years of hard work and be rewarded by open-armed employers ready to put your skills to use.

Reality is much harsher than this and getting a full-time gig can be really, really challenging. Journalism students face a particularly uncertain future, with universities continuing to pump an oversupply of graduates into the job market.

According to the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, there are an estimated 10,000 journalists employed in Australia, with an estimated 6,000 of those in freelance, part-time or casual roles. Crikey found there were 1750 journalism students enrolled across each undergraduate year level in a one-year period, equalling 17.5 per cent of the industry in just one year’s supply of graduates.

With grim figures like these, it’s no wonder many journo grads choose to go down alternative paths like copywriting, event management or public relations. To get an idea of what life is really like after a journalism degree, Hijacked spoke to two recent graduates.

Brooke S., class of 2013

Brooke studied a Bachelor of Communication with a major in journalism. Four months after finishing her degree, Brooke began work as a Communications Coordinator for a private business.

HJCKD: As a graduate who had majored in journalism, how did you end up working in a communication role?

Brooke: My degree taught me a lot about communication and even the basics of PR, even though I chose to major in journalism. Being a journalist was always the goal but I ended up applying for whatever was going when I graduated, and sort of fell into this.

HJCKD: Do you still see yourself going back to journalism?

Brooke: Realistically, no. I’ve been out of the field for a little while now and I think if I started applying for journalism roles at this point, it’d be too difficult to compete with the newer graduates with fresher experience.

HJCKD: What advice would you give journalism students or recent graduates about finding work?

Brooke: I’d say to be persistent in looking for work, but also to broaden your skills so that you have something to fall back on. But also, know what you enjoy doing and what you’re willing to settle for.

 

I’ve been out of the field for a little while now and I think if I started applying for journalism roles at this point, it’d be too difficult to compete with the newer graduates with fresher experience.

 

Lachie L., class of 2014

Lachie studied a Bachelor of Communication with a double major in journalism and public relations. Two months after completing his degree, Lachie landed a job as a cadet journalist with Fairfax Regional Media.

HJCKD: Were you applying for many roles in the lead up to securing your position at Fairfax?

Lachie: I started applying for jobs about halfway through the [final] university year and I was applying for pretty much everything, in every state of Australia.

HJCKD: Were you concerned at any point during your degree or after that you wouldn’t land a journalism role?

Lachie: Pretty much for the last 24 months of my degree. I was fully prepared for it to take eight months to find work. If it took longer than that I probably would have been bummed, but I was ready for an eight-month wait.

 

I started applying for jobs about halfway through the [final] university year and I was applying for pretty much everything, in every state of Australia.

HJCKD: What advice would you give journalism students or recent graduates about finding work?

Lachie: My advice would be to pin down what you want to get a job in, whether it be Fairfax or News Corp or some alternative media, and do heaps of work experience so you’re familiar with the software they use and the systems they use, so when you get the job interview you can say ‘I’ve learned it all before’.

Emily Burley

Emily Burley is a social change student and journalism graduate of the University of Newcastle. She tweets at @emilyburley.