Why Won’t Big Publications Hire Me?
I graduated from one of the top-three graduate journalism programs in the country about six months ago, and I can't seem to land a decent entry-level job to save my life.
I have had about four internships, two of which were quite prestigious, the first at the Rome bureau of a major news weekly and another at a top newswire, also in Rome. I have done research and reporting work in California, Turkey, Sweden and France. I speak fluent Italian and basic French, have traveled extensively, have strong clips, and still, nothing.
I never imagined that getting an entry-level gig at a major magazine or newspaper would be this difficult. I have networked like crazy, and while this has yielded informational interviews at reputable publications and gotten me very close to snagging a job at one, I remain unemployed.
I have no desire whatsoever to cover local news at some tiny paper in the middle of nowhere, and I feel my clips, education and experience are more than sufficient to break into the big leagues.
One magazine editor even told me she feared I would be bored at an entry-level magazine job and may strike recruiters as being overqualified. I have no idea what I am doing wrong, and am wondering if perhaps spending nearly $50,000 on a graduate journalism degree was a huge error. I am wondering if perhaps I should take another internship in the meantime, since it seems that would be better than uselessly searching for jobs that yield to nothing.
However, the majority of the best internships offer next to no pay, and my loan payments are going to start fairly soon. I have also considered moving back to Italy to freelance, but that requires money and is something my contacts there have discouraged, telling me the competition is too intense and it would be best for me to have several years on staff somewhere before attempting to go that route. And yes, I have inquired about jobs at both my former internships in Italy, and as they are presently cutting staff, that isn't a possibility. Is there something I am not doing that I should be aware of? Am I doing something wrong? Are my expectations too high? Any advice about now would be much appreciated. Many thanks!
You are trapped between your expectations and reality.
You have seen that the major publications you would like to start at are not yet ready to hire you. There goes the top of the market.
Your position that you will not "cover local news at some tiny paper in the middle of nowhere," takes away the bottom of the market and, depending on your definition of nowhere, probably much of the middle.
Something has to change before your situation will. Either editors at major publications have to change their minds about you, or you are going to have to swallow some pride and apply more broadly. I worry that your disdain for the publications that might hire you is so deep that you will not interview well with them or that you would not thrive.
The only suggestion I can offer is that you look for smaller publications ringing large cities where you could learn in an environment you like. But I am still afraid that if the editors catch even a whiff of arrogance, your first job in journalism may become your last.
The recruiter asks back: What do others think? What should this grad do? To discuss, click here.
Coming Monday: This reporter at a small daily has just accepted a job at a magazine near her family. It would be in a better area and pay more, but she is getting cold feet.