Presenting Yourself: Resumes, Interviewing, Networking

Bill Walsh of the Washington Post and Rich Holden, the Executive Director of Dow Jones News Fund, speaking about resume writing, interviews and networking at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communiation during the 15th National Conference of American Copy Editors Society (ACES)

The first two sessions were a fabulous learning experience for me. Now, I am sitting in Cronkite Room 314 to attend the session on “Resume Writing, Interviewing, Network”. The Panel comprises of Bill Walsh, a multi-platform editor at the Washington Post, author of two books and Rich Holden, former New York Editor of The Wall Street Journal and the current executive director of the Dow Jones News Fund since 1992.

The session primarily focused on journalism students’ quest for internships and jobs in different newspapers. Based on their extensive experience of accepting and rejecting applications from students for several years, both the distinguished panelists shared their valuable experiences with us.


Rich said they receive an average number of seven hundred applications for summer internships. The applications should have a strong cover letter which which should address the How and Why aspects of the request for an internship. Applicants should mention in their cover letters how their skills fit in the desired organization’s set-up. They should also read the background and structure of the news organization they are applying at. However, do not repeat the information (about yourself) in the cover letter which is already provided in the resume.

I’d like to share some important points that I learned from this session.

  • Resumes should not exceed more than one page.
  • Get rid of the “Objective statement” in your resume. It is unnecessary. “There is no need to say that you want to become a journalist to change the world.”
  • Always provide references and avoid saying “references available on request” which is considered rude.
  • Provide three references i.e. personal, professional and academic.
  • Inform the people in advance whose names you are providing as references and also inform them about the places and positions at and on which you have applied so that they expect a phone call from the employer.
  • One of the biggest mistakes most students make in their resumes is avoiding writing about the foreign languages they know and computer skills possess.
  • Don’t lie about your fluency in a foreign language. “Who knows the organization may invite you for an interview in that language with a more fluent person.”
  • Don’t submit only one kind of writing sample. Provide different genre of writings such as news stories, features, reviews, interviews etc.
  • Use the standard formal business format (containing the postal address of the organization) in your cover letters even if you e-mail your data.
  • Send your documents in PDF format because your files in Word may not open or look different in someone else’s computer.
  • Don’t use weird, funny, sexy email addresses when you apply for internships/jobs.
  • Be careful about your activities on social networks. What seems funny to you may not sound hilarious to  rest of the people. It may dim the prospects of your success. “Make sure under the First Amendment, you have the right to say whatever you’d like to but the First Amendment does not compel  an organization to hire you.”
  • It is not true that most organizations prefer Linkedin profiles. They still look at Facebook pages and Twitter activities of the applicants.
  • Typos are the first thing which may cause the rejection of your application. Get your facts right. Don’t misspell name of the newspaper, editor or a city. Proof-read your information.
  • Many people who get rejected for the post of copy editor are unqualified people because they falsely believe copy editing is a position to start a career in journalism.
  • There is nothing wrong with approaching two people in one media organization to seek an internship.
  • It is very rude and unprofessional to get an internship from one organization and then back out after a few weeks because you have gotten a better internship. There is nothing more important than your commitment. Stick to one organization that offers you an internship.
  • The best way to do networking is connecting with the alumni networks.
  • In a conference like this,  students should go and introduce themselves with different editors. They should return home with at least twenty to thirty business cards.

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