As we help folk look for and, more importantly, get that first job, each week I am going to profile someone who beat the odds and landed a great job in this tough economy. The goal is to show you successful strategies for landing that first job.
Christina Pascucci is a recent grad of USC, and is working as a reporter at KOLO TV in Reno, NV. In a job field that has seen a huge contraction over the past couple of years, Christina landed a great job not long after graduating.
How did she do it?
"The USC news station helped tremendously. They have a live newscast that airs every night and essentially the newsroom there is exactly like the real deal. That by far is one of the most valuable things you can do if you take advantage of it. I also did at least 7 internships, 5 of them at major networks including CNN, ABC, and NBC. Making those contacts and seeking advice from the pros at those internships were invaluable. I remember the woman who "hired" me as an intern at NBC even helped me work on my voice. Be willing to do everything and anything. Show them you're a go-getter, film stand-ups, stay later if you're needed and go out of your way to help reporters when you go out with them. It will pay off."
See average salaries for TV news anchors.
Besides getting as much real world experience as possible, and working tirelessly at her internships, Christina also took courses in business and Spanish to make herself more marketable.
"Learning at least a second language is key. Even though I only use my Spanish on the job at random times, News Directors love to see someone bilingual. It sets you apart. And the work environment is only getting more competitive so I'm learning a third language."
That advice about a second language, especially Spanish, holds true not just for the TV News business. In an increasingly diverse nation, knowing a dominant second language will definitely put you ahead of the pack.
Christina also heeded the advice of getting your foot in the door any way you can to gain experience and make contacts.
"I initially worked at small cable stations after graduating. It was great because you had to pitch your own ideas often and enterprise stories, shoot, and edit your own stuff. That's where the business is going. You need to make yourself indispensable, and being able to wear several hats is the way to do that."
Some things Christina said she did to land her first full time job at a TV station was to make sure her résumé and demo reel stood out - making sure she put her most creative work on the reel and pointing out in her resume all the things she had done in school and after graduation that made her a unique job candidate.
And, in a tough job market, don't give up.
"Don't get discouraged. I hear over and over how people send out dozens of tapes and don't hear back. Just keep going for it, fine-tuning your tape and re-sending it out, and you will get a bite when the time is right. The job search will most likely take a while, unless you get lucky, so start as early as possible!"
I know that Christina didn't give up. I first met her when she applied for an open job at the station where I was the News Director. Although I wanted to hire her, the station had a hiring freeze imposed and so I wound up not being able to give her a job. But, she kept in touch with me, asked for advice, and used me as a resource as she continued searching for a job.
The bottom line, Christina did everything right, from what she did in school to her tenacity and willingness to do what it took to get the experience and contacts after she graduated. And, she got the job.