Many individuals are eager to pursue a career in journalism. They adore the platform and long for an opportunity to share their opinions, determine the news and be the first to read it.
These are the things that make securing a job as a journalist exciting. But there are fierce competitions you need to prepare your mind to tackle.
One of them is related to acquiring professional education. You will feel intimidated when you don’t have such training.
Though having professional training might give you a better chance, you can still become a journalist and function like every other person you see on the big screen without it. Let’s get to the basics of how you can dive into journalism without professional training.
1. Work on Your Mindset and Be Prepared
The reason most people don’t make it to the top in their career or life, in general, is their mindset. When you have a negative mindset, there is no way you can grow. Life is all about growth, and you need the right thinking and mindset to actualize or set that growth in motion.
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson “A man is what he thinks all day long.” What this means is that you can only become or achieve whatever you think.
Relating this statement to how you can become a journalist, the first thing you need to do is to change your mindset.
Do not let the thought of not having a degree limit your thinking or how you go about pursuing your desire to become a professional journalist. Again, you cannot achieve success as a media person without motivation and passion for the job itself. So, develop the passion and zeal that shows you can succeed as a journalist.
You also need to find out deep down inside if journalism is something you really would like to do.
Most journalists, especially those who just started the journey, work more than 50 hours a week. So the question is can you cope with that?
Also know that as a journalist, you would have to work under tight deadlines and pressure most of the time.
2. Develop Your Skills Through Blogging
You need excellent writing skills to become a journalist or succeed as one. You are not going into the profession to read papers but to write what hundreds of people with varied intellectual ability and knowledge would read.
That said, even if you do not have a professional education or qualification, your writing skills can stand you out of the crowd. Also, you can build or improve upon through consistent blogging.
Blogging in this context means producing unique contents. Work harder than every blogger out there to make your blog and content inspiring. One of the benefits of blogging is that it that it will help you gain confidence in your writing, which you need to excel as a journalist or in journalism.
Regarding blogging, find a niche you like and produce great contents on that.
Maintain an online profile that presents and projects you as a journalist in the making. Even if you do not have a degree, seeing your work online alone can convince your employers that you are worth a try.
3. Move With the Right People
It is essential to build or join a network of people who are already well-placed in their respective journalism careers.
Get to know the journalists in your area and visit them regularly in persons if you have the opportunity. Journalists are also humans, and most of them like to mingle with people.
But do not throw away your prestige when you are around them. Behave like a professional and ask intelligent questions that will project you as one.
Having more journalists as friends will make it easier for you to hear about openings in various establishments, and get firsthand advice on how to gain the trust of recruiters.
Be open about your status. Let your journalist friends know you do not have a professional education but you have other skills to prove your worth given the opportunity.
4. Join the Freelance Community
One easy way to get better at writing or anything you do is consistent practice. And no other platform presents such an opportunity than freelancing. There are many freelancing sites you can register on and start offering writing services. You can write for individuals or companies who own blogs.
Besides, there are many areas you can focus on in writing. You can become a content writer, academic writer; e-book writer and proofreading are also part of the opportunity.
Another area of writing you can focus on is press releases. If you don’t know how to go about it, you can read materials on how to write great press releases.
As a freelancer, you can earn money working. And the good thing about becoming one is that you will make money and also build your writing skills gradually.
5. Develop Basic Skills
Apart from your writing skills, there are other areas you need to develop. But have at the back of your mind that you need to produce error-free content and write impeccable English.
If your spoken or written English is not excellent, start working on it. The way you speak and write should project you as a journalist. Also develop your vocabulary by reading books, novels and other materials that can help you achieve such growth.
As an aspiring journalist, you need to start reading a lot. Read materials written by other journalists as well as academic materials. You should also read novels and study how other great authors and journalists write. You don’t necessarily have to be like them. Learn a thing or two from their work.
As an aspiring journalist, you also need to have a sense of management. You are going to work alone in most cases, so your employers would want nothing but the best and error-free work. Learn how to manage stress and have a great and active imagination.
Your organizational skills are also crucial. And have in mind that any mistake you make can hurt your reputation and that of the organization you are representing.
6. Develop Specific Skills
When you visit journalist colleges, you will discover that majority of the individuals there comprise of wealthy, middle class, and people from all works of life. But there are areas in journalism that are lacking in-depth knowledge or passionate professionals.
Areas such as economics, finance, administration, and science have only a handful of qualified journalists. But in literature and geopolitics, you will encounter a high number of professional journalists who are even overqualified for the job.
So, your focus should be on a different area. Choose a field of journalism that is not overpopulated and grow in that field.
If you can amass great knowledge in any of those less populated areas of journalism as mentioned above, you might not even struggle to land a job or progress in your career.
7. Join the Student Media
Any undergraduates looking for an opportunity to build a career in journalism should get involved in their school’s student media.
Tons of clubs or school activities you can partake in are available, but the student media in your school will make it easier for you to dive into the journalism profession with ease.
Most media establishments prefer candidates with firsthand experience in the industry. But the little knowledge you gained while you were still an undergraduate at the student media house might give you an advantage over someone who only has the degree but no experience.
But in some schools, you won’t find a media setup for students. It may turn out that they don’t have one or had but were not able to manage it properly.
If you find yourself in this kind of situation, summon the courage to start a student media in your school. You can talk to already established journalists for advice, discuss with your student union about your proposal and request funding if you believe you can see it through.
8. Gain More Experience in Social Media Management
Blogging and social media management are two platforms that can increase your chances of becoming a successful journalist. If you want to be a successful reporter, then your camera, social media, and content management skills should be as sharp as a blade.
Think about most of the news you consume on a daily basis, where do you access them the most? It is mostly through social media platforms and blogs, right?
These are platforms you need to focus on and build your skills and experience around them. But if you don’t have a platform to manage, there are tons of charity organizations looking for volunteers to help maintain their pages. University societies also have social media accounts with a sizeable amount of audience, which you can manage.
You can also become a contributor to various media outlets. Most of these media houses have a considerable amount of audience and make great platforms to gain experience. Most of them include the Filibuster UK, Huffington Post, and Backbench UK.
The bottom line is that you can become a journalist and flourish in your career even with a professional certificate. It all boils down to the skills and experience you have that are related to journalism.
There are various platforms and ways you can gather more knowledge and develop your skills. Undergraduates can join the student media group in their schools. Graduates can take up a volunteer position where they can have access to manage news platforms for organizations.
You can go through the tips on this post to help develop your career in journalism with ease.