Life After the School of Communication

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Skype interview with alumn Rawand Darwesh in Iraq

Today was full of many trial and errors. Bootcampers spent the afternoon working on their audio slideshows, encountering a number of technical difficulties along the way. It took me a few hours too long to get my audio to sound the way I wanted it to, and by the time I finished, a few of my good bites were lost. Most students didn’t finish their projects and need to come in to wrap up Saturday afternoon. I see now why they call it Bootcamp.

One valuable lesson we learned, however, was in technology. Files went missing. Programs Crashed. Flash drives erased all work. Cords didn’t sync up with equipment. Most notably, our Skype connection to alumn Rawand Darwesh didn’t work after many attempts. Instead, we had the pleasure of speaking to him via a conference call. Professor Olmsted reminded us to always have a backup plan.

It’s important in journalism to always think of backups. You might be out on a shoot, and BAM, the batteries are dead. The audio didn’t record. The lighting was off in the camera. You forgot the memory card. I’m sure all reporters have their horror stories. For instance, both Professor Olmsted and the news director of WAMU Jim Ascendio told us that the day you have to perform a man-on-the-street interview, it will most likely be either:

a) raining

b) extremely hot

c) an event going on somewhere else

d) someone giving short, half-sentence answers (or they’ll just avoid you all together)

e) someone in purple (statistically, people wearing purple are terrible to interview, Professor Olmsted told the class.

Keosha Johnson talks about the NBC Associates Program

Keosha Johnson talks about the NBC Associates Program

Despite the economic downturn, WAMU is in a position to expand and has even hired more employees, including SOC alumnus. Ascendio said the fact that two of the students he hired attended American University stood out to him and put them before the other 50 applicants for each spot.

There’s always someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows you in this business, he said. It’s important not to burn bridges and know that what you do when you’re an intern can affect your eligibility for a job when you’re thirty. Yikes.

“As you rise, they rise,” he said. He recommends staying in touch with people through social networking, like Facebook. But it takes more than just a clean slate and connections.

“I never want to hear ‘I won’t,’ or ‘I can’t,'” he said about the newsroom. ” He said he expects a reporter to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ when it comes to assignments.

Not only do the reporters need to keep their credibility and willingness to pursue journalism, but so does WAMU, he said.

If you stay still, you’re crazy, he said. If you don’t have listener support, you’re done. He said he wants people to listen to the station because of its “damn good journalism” rather than for simple traffic and weather updates.

Keosha Johnson, an AU journalism alumna, became part of that damn good journalism with a job offer from WAMU. Upon graduation, she attended the NBC Associates Program in New York, where she worked for shows like The Today Show and Dateline. Johnson joined the class in the afternoon to discuss opportunities for young graduates.

This presentation particularly interested me because of my preexisting relationship with NBC. She said the company is supportive of its workers and employees, which put a dim light of hope at the end of the employment tunnel. Fellowships and media programs are great ways to get your foot in the door at an organization and could be an option for post-graduation.


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