I got the sweetest comment from Kayla, a ballsy young lady who like me, knows the power of a good google search:) I'm pretty honest when I don't know something. But what I do know, Im definitely willing to share, so if you ever have a question feel free to hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So on to Kayla's question . . .
OMG. So I was doing a Google search on Fredricka Whitfield and Howard University and your blog came up. This is really random, but I want to commend you on everything you've accomplished. You're living my dream, lol. I'm filling out my Howard app now. That's my dream school. I know that you're probably busy, but could you offer any advice on getting into HU, earning a spot on the Hilltop staff and landing a good communications job?
Thanks for checking out the blog and for your kind comment. You make me feel like all my name dropping may be a good thing:) You definitely are already on the right track by gathering information on something you are interested in from various sources and starting early!
* Getting into Howard
Show you are versed on the long history of the school and how you can add to the rich legacy. Also show how well-rounded you are and that you are active and have diverse interests. I was a student ambassador (A sexy title for campus tour guides) and we also helped out with applications in the admissions office. Having a strong list of interest and clubs you are involved in can make the difference in getting you in.
*Getting a spot on The Hilltop
Be ready to work hard and dependable. When I was on staff the folks we loved the most and promoted and gave the best assignments were people who you knew could come through. In any newsroom, there is always a need for fresh ideas and practical ways they can fit into the current plan. So show up at that first budget meeting and don't leave without a story! Then work hard to make it the best and turn it in before the deadline. Go above and do some secondary reporting. If they ask you to interview a new rookie bball player. See if you can get a quote from his middle school couch who always knew he'd go far, or his high school girlfriend on what a great guy he is to add some color.
*Getting a job in Communications
Though the face of media and how we get our information changes, there's no doubt that their is demand for info. My first piece would definitely be to get skilled in the many ways to tell a story. Take online classes and a few broadcast because newsrooms whether magazine, newspaper or broadcast are asking their reporters to work across mediums. Also, start now with reaching out to people who you'd like to learn from (like you already did). It's much easier to build a relationship now, then to wait until you need a job or internship and cold call. Attend every workshop or speaker that you can in the school, even if it's not your area. The circle of people in media is small, and even smaller for people of color. So when you meet someone, not only do you connect with them, but all the people they know. Often jobs you are interested in are never posted on a job website, but filled by people who are recommended. That isn't to sound disheartening, but just shows how important it is to expand your network. My biggest mentor and inspiration at Howard, Professor Yanick Lamb, always says, "You have to circulate to percolate" . . .and as usual she was very right:)
Now the most important part for it all, BREATHE.
It will all work out and hard work and having a plan will always pay off. Get ready to have a great time in DC with a historic president in the White House.