Journalism is more important now than ever before. That’s what my stunned colleagues and I told each other in the waning hours of November 8, when it became clear that Donald Trump would win the presidential election, despite what the polls had said. Since then, Mic’s news team has worked round-the-clock reporting the stories that keep Trump and his administration in check, and give a voice to the underrepresented people in this new chapter of U.S. history.
I’m a news editor at Mic, a digital news outlet geared toward millennials. We’re a leading voice in national conversations around race, gender, sexuality, body positivity and other social issues that matter most to our generation. My daily schedule is shaped by the news cycle: some days, I’m racing to assign and edit stories in rapid succession as we work to cover breaking stories; other days, I’m working with writers on ambitious features that require deeper reporting.
I decided to go into journalism in my junior year at Hamilton, where I was double majoring in history and theater and working as a writing center tutor. Journalism may sound like a leap, but to me, it was a natural fit — it demanded the same communication and storytelling skills I used when I was acting in plays or churning out essays on Russian and German history. I started writing for the Spectator, where I eventually launched a column on sex and relationships.
My senior year, I applied to graduate programs in journalism. In the fall of 2012, I started my master’s degree at New York University (NYU). For the majority of my time at NYU, I interned at the New York Observer, where I’d run around the city covering local news. When I graduated NYU in December 2013, the Observer hired me as a staff writer. I moved to Mic in November 2015, eager to explore new digital platforms for journalism.
Grad school is by no means necessary to get a job in media, but it was the right choice for me. The program taught me essential journalism job skills, and gave me great access to internships in New York City, which eventually led to a job offer. It isn’t the only way to launch your career — plenty of media companies offer internships and fellowships for college students and recent graduates.
To make yourself an ideal candidate for a media job, embrace the industry’s shift to digital. It’s helpful to have a strong presence on social media — follow other reporters on Twitter and Instagram and learn how they leverage social media to find stories and sources. Become fluent in reddit. Learn how to edit video and make GIFs. Coding skills could help you, too.
Keep yourself open to any opportunity, and know that your first role won’t necessarily be your dream job. What’s important is getting a foot in the door.
Reporting the news is mentally and physically demanding. There are no set hours, and chasing stories often means working evenings and weekends. The payoff, of course, is publishing work that draws attention to underreported narratives and affects change.