For Journalists: Grad School vs. Real-Life

During my undergrad in the literary journalism program at UC Irvine, there was an ongoing debate  about the need to pursue grad school. Would students jumping right into the job market after graduation ensure them the experience they needed to land their dream job? Or was it better to take a few more years to hone their writing skills in order to be a better candidate in the over saturated journalism market?

The good, and confusing, thing is there is no right answer. I chose to jump right into the journalism field and I admit, it wasn’t easy. As a 22-year-old with only internships and few published works, it took persistence and hard work to get noticed by any publication. In the beginning, I was working two jobs and an internship just to support myself enough to write for a small online magazine. But that magazine quickly turned into my first full-time writing job, and got me noticed by the people here at YouTube Nation. I never regret the path I took, but I always wondered, was grad school a missed opportunity?

What a great question! Below, my sweet graduate school friends spell out the pros of committing to grad school, and the opportunities it’s presented them since graduation. In the next post, I’ll share my own experiences going straight in the job field, and maybe in some rare bit of luck, these two posts will give you a little more clarity about your future choices. Now take it away ladies!

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^^ Let ole’ Tarder Sauce get us all in the mood to talk about some higher education. Am I right? ^^

Things to Consider About Grad School

1. Grad school fills in the holes overlooked during undergrad.

It was always known around the journalism department that my friend Ody Suarez wanted to be an on-air reporter. Passionate about both political science and journalism, Ody is a dynamo, and possibly the most positive person I’ve ever met. But without a broadcast program at UC Irvine, Ody  decided to pursue grad school to learn everything she could about on-air reporting.

“Grad school is definitely a smaller community so you have a better chance of building a good relationship with your educators, and having one-on-one time with them so that they can look at your work and provide suggestions and critiques,” shares Ody, now an on-air reporter for an ABC station in Springfield, Illinois.

2. It solely focuses on your intended field.

The beauty of undergrad is students are given the chance to try everything: Science, math, English, music, dance, tennis, psychology, and more! On the flip side, the challenge of undergrad is being forced to take classes you don’t care about.

“I definitely loved learning beyond my major and minor,” states Ody, “But ultimately, I wanted to learn more journalism. Once I got into grad school, every class was journalism-related and I chose topics that fit my interests. It was great!”

Grad school is an extra two years of experience and during that time, you figure out if you want to pursue news, features, on-air reporting, entertainment, sports, politics, or any other kind of writing. You also have the space to build your portfolio with clips published both on-campus and off, a sweet perk if you ask me.

3. But first! Have a conversation with yourself to see if this is what you really want.

“Really know what you want to do before going to grad school,” comments Samar Khoury, Syracuse University graduate. “Grad school is a lot of work and requires a lot of commitment.” Grad school shouldn’t be the option you fall back on if you aren’t getting any job callbacks. It should be a well-thought out decision because you’re not only dedicating two more years of your life to education, but a big chunk of your savings as well!

“If you’re on the fence about grad school, you really have to sit down with yourself and figure out what it is you want out of your life. Is this going to help you ultimately get your dream job?” advises Ody. “How much do you want a higher degree? Are you willing to move? Do you want to take a break before you go back to school again?”

***

In conclusion, grad school can be a huge benefit to your future. It presents you a wider network of contacts and mentors, and gives you extra time to craft your style of writing. Both Samar and Ody credit their higher education for giving them opportunities, such as positions at ABC, BOP and Tiger Beat magazines, they may not have had with just an undergrad diploma. But the biggest thing you need to remember is grad school isn’t going anywhere so take your time deciding.

“Essentially, no matter what you decide, grad school will always be there for you,” states Ody. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my grad school education and I am glad I took the route I did.”

***

On Monday, I’ll be sharing my own experiences jumping straight into the working world, and all the advice you didn’t ask for but I’m giving anyways. You’re welcome.

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2 thoughts on “For Journalists: Grad School vs. Real-Life

  1. Pingback: For Journalists: Real-Life vs. Grad School | The Curious Case of Carly Christine

  2. Pingback: Today, You’re Enough: A Pep Talk | The Curious Case of Carly Christine

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