What you learn

Gettysburg College held a writer’s summit on Feb. 19th.  I attended the “Speak Up, Write Out” conference with three other students on staff at York College’s Spartan Newspaper and found it to be an enjoyable, learning experience.  The professional guest speakers were happy to share helpful tips on attaining success in the journalism field.

It’s who you know.  The professionals on the panel all stressed how important having contacts has been in their careers. The consensus was attending conferences, meeting guest speakers and remaining in touch with college professors is what made a difference in their own success.

Shoot for the moon.  No matter your career goal, don’t be afraid to take chances.  Send out your resume, submit your work or even apply in person.  The worst thing that can happen, you don’t get the job or receive a “thanks, but no” letter.  One panelist suggested “wallpapering your bedroom with rejection letters” as a way to make some use of them as there will be many.  Don’t feel rejected by these letters.

Internships are important.  Members on the panel all at one time were interns.  They usually weren’t paid, but what they did earn was the knowledge in a work setting in their field.  Learning the ropes as an intern is just another important step towards a career goal.  While interning, make as many contacts as possible.

Learn a second language.  Several different panels agreed Spanish would be the ideal second language, but any second language may be helpful to an employer deciding on who to hire.  Knowing the lingo of writers is also important.  I heard several times that writers are snarky or have snarky comments.  Since the conference I did some research.  Snarky is British slang for “irritible, testy and short.”

Work that cover letter.  Write a sincere, informative cover letter telling what you can do for a company and include personal interests.  Make an impression with your cover letter and resume to stand out and be competitive in their content.  Try to keep your resume to one page but include anything and everything that is relevant in your work history, education and personal interests that could help you get an internship or job.

Network online.  If you want to get your name out there, especially in a writing career, get on the internet.  There are endless websites to use for networking.  It sounded odd hearing the professional panelists pushing for Facebook, Twitter and other social network websites as useful tools in their career.

Enterprising stories.  My last panel session topic of the conference was “journalism in local news.”  Local newspapers in Hanover and Gettysburg do not have enough reporters to cover the news.  An “enterprise story” is an idea for a story a reporter comes up with on their own and runs with it.  Local newspapers often print this type of story. Mainly because the topic is specific, no one else would have written about it.

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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