The team over at Ennova hosted a career panel discussion with their team members so they could share their knowledge and experiences from their respective undergraduate majors. This career panel covered journalism and creative writing. Kristine Dessinger was the emcee while hosted the career panel included: Aaron, who double majored in Mass Communications and English, was involved in his high school newspaper, and had a career as a newspaper editor; Wyatt, who majored in Journalism and has experience blogging; and Sara, who earned her master’s degree in English with a Creative Writing focus. She also speaks three languages! Here are some interesting points from the panel:
When you were in high school, what did you think you wanted to do for a career? Sara wasn’t sure; she just knew she wanted to study a foreign language. Aaron liked being part of the high school newspaper, so that’s what got him interested in journalism. Wyatt was more interested in geo-engineering and ROTC, and he was thinking of going into the military. He started out studying Geology/Geophysics and didn’t like it. He switched to Journalism because of his interest in blogging.
How did you first become interested in journalism or creative writing? Sara was part of UIL Creative Writing and UIL Spelling at different times and has a passion for writing novels in her spare time. Aaron became interested when he worked for his high school newspaper. Wyatt became interested through blogging.
We asked Wyatt why he decided not to pursue a career in journalism. During college he worked with high school students, so he decided to continue that after he graduated.
What was your favorite or least favorite part of studying Journalism/Mass Communications/English? Aaron didn’t like his Public Relations class because of his professor, and Wyatt agreed. Sara liked the fact that she was trained to write from different perspectives. It helped her with critical thinking.
Do you have experience with blogging? Sara has some experience blogging in the past. Wyatt did some cageside live blogging and reporting for Mixed Martial Arts events. He had to do flash editing, because he had a very short time to post the play-by-play. Blogging can pay well if you have a very strong network of followers, but it is very time consuming to get to that level.
We asked Aaron to share his experiences working for the newspaper. He started out writing for a community paper. These papers seem to be doing better than larger newspapers, because they’re the only way to get local news. There’s really a divide between new reporters fresh out of college, who tend to be interested in new technology and industry trends, and the old-school reporters who used typewriters and are more resistant to online news and social media. As a reporter, you have to talk to people a lot and go to events and rub shoulders with important people. One perk is that everyone in the area knows you if you work for a local paper. One downside is that sometimes you have to file legal documents like FOIA to get the information you need. Also, you might get backlash from people who don’t like what you’re writing. Once he became editor, Aaron was doing very little writing – just editing and page setting. He ended up working about 90 hours a week and was getting very little pay, so he switched careers. When you work that many hours as a salaried employee, you basically earn minimum wage.
What would you tell someone considering a career in journalism or creative writing? You should double major in something that could be a solid career like Public Relations. If you double major in Journalism and PR, it would normally only take you an extra semester since a lot of the classes apply to both majors. Also, you must decide if you want to write for fun or for a career. Realize that if you write for your job and are told what you have to write about, it can really hamper your creativity. You have to decide if you really want to write as a career or want to do it as a hobby and have another line of work. Also, you have to be really passionate about journalism to work your way up to a good position. Since this is a declining career, you could end up making minimum wage and not really getting to write what you want.
How has your training in journalism or creative writing helped you as a coach? Sara said that it has helped with seeing things from different perspectives since she speaks with so many people in a day. It helps her to shift her perspective when she works with people from different backgrounds.
Wasn't that great! Hopefully you have a better idea of what it takes to become a journalist or creative writer.
Your higher calling may be sharing information or influencing people with words. One of the easiest ways to prepare for this field is to read. Read biographies, novels, fiction, and build your vocabulary. Have fun using your new words with your family and friends.
And you should write. Write a journal for yourself. Write short stories. Blog for a special interest group like music, woodworking, painting, karate, or bass fishing. You’re never wrong if you just write.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in journalism or creative writing, there are many pathways to choose. One option is to major in English and take electives in a variety of other fields. Or you could major in history, mathematics, or art as long as you take many electives in English.
Contact me when you are ready to complete a career assessment.
Student Aid shares how to accept financial aid (free, earned, borrowed) when preparing paying for college. Read the three tips and the descriptions below.
First, accept free money (merit aid, scholarships, grants).
The best way to pay for college is with merit aid! Merit aid is distributed by each college based on your academic performance in high school (GPA) and on your standardized tests (SAT, ACT). Improve your scores to qualify for more merit aid using test prep and tutoring! What are you waiting for?
The Domestic Undergraduate Need-Based Aid and Merit Aid chart by Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy from EducateAbroad (2017) shows you how each college distributes merit aid. Public schools offer around $5,000 in merit aid while private schools offer around $15,000. Actual aid is determined by the individual college based on the students GPA, test scores, and other factors (in some cases).
Don't fall in the "guaranteed trap!" Authentic scholarship search websites will not guarantee a scholarship since the winners could be selected at random, be 1 of 14,542 entries, or by popular vote of students with curly hair. They will not charge you an entry fee for a scholarship search. They do not have exclusive rights or secret money left by your ancestors in a cave.
So finding and applying for scholarships is your responsibility. Through your junior year, bookmark and save the scholarships you want to apply to as a senior. Then you can work toward meeting the recommendations. Christopher Penn, Chief Media Officer of Edvisors, recommends that you "set your expectations by the rule of 10 - for every scholarship you are awarded, you have to apply for 10. For every scholarship you qualify and apply for, you'll need to research 10 opportunities." So starting in August of your senior year, apply for 3-5 scholarships a week. Consider this a part-time job. When you are awarded a $500 that you spent a few hours applying for, you just saved 50 hours of real work! So don't overlook or dismiss the small dollar offers.
With so many scholarship search engines available, start with CareerOneStop, Scholar Snapp, Scholly, Student Scholarship Search, Chegg, Cappex, Fastweb, and FinAid. You'll need to create a profile but the search is free (Scholly has a small fee). Some will offer scholarships that may not be listed on another site. Some will sell your personal information, so read the fine print.
You can also search for scholarship opportunities on a general search engine (Yahoo, Bing, Google) and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest).
You can search using many scholarship categories: academic, athletic, institutional, private, local, and regional. For more ideas, read my blog about finding obscure scholarships.
While some colleges have grants, there are typically two types of federal grants: the Pell Grant and the TEACH Grant. Similar to scholarships, grants are one-time offers that must be renewed.
Some students qualify for Pell Grants. Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree.
A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other federal student grants because it requires you to take certain kinds of classes in order to get the grant, and then do a certain kind of job to keep the grant from turning into a loan.
Next, accept earned money (work study).
Some students are given the opportunity to participate in work study through the college. This allows you to work on campus for a designated amount of money. If you marked work study on your FAFSA, it should be a part of your award package. When you register for college, visit your school’s financial aid office and sign up. Don’t procrastinate. The best jobs fill up quickly. Some jobs give you the opportunity to work in your field of study; many are in service areas such as at the library, in the cafeteria, or admission office.
BONUS EARNED MONEY TIP: Learn how to become a Resident Assistant (RA). Colleges will compensate you (including free room costs!) to live and work on campus.
Last, accept borrowed money (loans).
Loans are a part of financial aid. Loans help you fill in the gap of your need-based aid and merit-based aid. There are many loan sources: institutional, federal student, federal parent, state, and private educational loans. Federal Loans include: Federal Perkins Loan (<$5,500), Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan ($3,500-5,500 - no charged interest while in school), Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan ($6,000-20,500 - interest charged while in school, begin payments immediately), Direct PLUS Loan for parents (up to yearly cost of attendance - begin payments immediately). You should also use this loan calculator to estimate your potential repayment schedule.
Consider federal loans first before selecting state loans, institutional (college) loans or private loans. And read the fine print!
Two companies that provide information about private financial aid loans are Edvisors and College Raptor.
One more tip, with all of the free, earned, and borrowed money, learn how to set up (and use) a budget.
You may not have considered budgeting for college yet. Some families work with a financial adviser, local banker, or software to create a budget. Here are a few tools that will help you think through the college budgeting process.
Preparing yourself to pay for college is an essential step towards your higher calling.
So, how do you feel when you are considering what to study in college?
Many college applications require you to select a major or state that you are “undeclared”. Being undeclared simply means that you are not ready to select a major because there are so many options. This is so true for perceivers, those who are spontaneous - basically, non-planners like me. This is a good option especially if you are attending a liberal arts college.
But what is the best way to choose a major? Here are 5 ideas to guide you.
Ode to the Undeclared Major
One of the most popular majors at universities is the “undeclared” major. Many universities or colleges recognize you may not be ready to declare a major when you start as a freshman. Often you do not have to declare your major until sometime in your sophomore year. There are a few universities that don’t offer “undeclared” as an option. You will know which colleges require majors from their websites and applications.
Talk to a school counselor or career counselor, take a career assessment, or use the list of majors or careers to explore professions in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Credit: GuidedPath Guru
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.