Anonymous asked: I'm a recent college grad, who majored in communication and sociology. I've always been a strong writer and I'm realizing now that it's what I'd really like to do - BUT, I have no experience in writing for a campus newspaper, internship, etc. They're IMPOSSIBLE to find in my area. Any suggestions on how to get started? I have a blog with some original content but that's it!
Sounds like you feel yourself caught in a classic career starting conundrum: You don’t have experience but can’t get experience because you don’t have experience.
We posted a video recently of CUNY professor CW Anderson discussing an entrepreneurial journalism course he teaches. While he talks about many things, a key point I like is how he stresses that we all must write. Especially those of us out of a job or hoping to get into a job.
In July, I wrote something similar to a question a student had about putting together a portfolio. Here’s a bit where I mention what is was like before we could all have blogs and self-publishing tools:
Back then getting started was a chicken and egg proposition. You’d apply for something and be asked to show your clips. But you didn’t have clips because you were just starting out, and you wouldn’t get clips until someone overlooked that and took a chance on you.
That’s not true anymore. Want to be a science writer, start writing about it, start reporting about it, start curating about it. No one’s stopping you. Fashion more your thing? Do the same. More interested in the tech side of things? Start creating things and/or get involved in an Open Source project, and then write about what you’re doing and learning.
It takes some effort but that’s what we have to do. Block off 30 minutes a day to work on these things. Maybe even an hour.
After a month or a few you’ll be amazed by how much material you have to show people. You’ll also be amazed by how much you’ve personally learned by actually doing it.
So, you say you want to be a writer but there’s nothing available in your area. In that case, make something available to yourself.
There are stories everywhere. There are stories where there are lots of people. There are stories where they are no people. There are great stories about topics other than people.
So start writing them. Choose something that you’re passionate about. If it’s a character who lives down the street, approach him and ask if you can interview and write about him. If he asks why, and what for, say simply, “I like to write.”
Some people will say no but you’ll be surprised by how many people say yes. People are wonderful that way.
And if your passion is for a subject or topic that requires more discrete expertise, say science or medicine or art or local politics, start reading up and then start calling people up (eg, at local colleges, businesses, governmental agencies and what not) and ask questions.
Again, many will ask why and where will this appear and you simply say, “I like to write and its for a personal site I’m creating.”
And then some will say no but others will say yes but give it a couple months and you have yourself body of work. You’ve gotten started.
It takes effort. But it is doable. And find a trusted friend, former teacher or family member to give you feedback on what you do, to be an editor. And listen to what they have to say even if you disagree. Else you’ll write in a ramble like I do.
We wish you great luck and let us know how it goes. — Michael
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