Are you a high school student thinking about pursuing a Mass Communications major? Or maybe you're already a Mass Comm college student trying to figure out your next step. Well this one is for you...
Kendra Turley is a fellow LSU alum hailing from Houston, Texas. While in college, I always admired her grace as she navigated throughout college seeming to find a balance between school work, extra-curricular activities, & of course a little fun. Currently, Kendra works as a news reporter for Fox10 News in Mobile, Alabama. I know that the road from college to career can be a bumpy one for many Mass Comm majors. I got with Kendra to discuss some things to give us some insight into the journey of a Mass Comm graduate.
First, start by telling us a little about yourself & what led you to choose your major.
I've always been a very talkative and inquisitive person. Let my Daddy tell it, I was just running my mouth and being nosy! Lol. My parents bought me a digital camera back in the MySpace era and I wasn't interested in taking pictures. I wanted to record everything! Videos intrigued me. I loved capturing freestyle battles at the lunch table or interviewing my teammates before our volleyball game. At the time, they were just memories I could look back on once we all split up for college. I didn't even realize I had discovered my passion for video, editing, and story-telling. I used to do the announcements at my church every Sunday. It was a small task but I loved the feeling of talking in front of the congregation. It gave me the confidence to speak in front of even larger crowds at school and so forth. All of these experiences put together led me to my Mass Communication major. Mass Communication is a broad major that focuses on communicating to various audiences through a variety of different tools. I love the flexibility of the major.
From my perspective, Mass Communication majors usually have a hard time finding a job right out of college. What contributed to you landing a job upon graduating?
The process was NOT easy. It definitely required thick skin and a lot of patience. I started applying for jobs the December before my May graduation. I applied to almost 200 stations from December to July. During that time, I treated all of my social media platforms as if I was already a journalist. I tweeted the latest news and informed people in the Baton Rouge area of all newsworthy events. I stayed up-to-date on local and national news. I didn't just apply for jobs and move on. I emailed the News Director of each station and reached out to current reporters at the time for advice. I finally received an offer in July of 2015, two months after graduation.
Would you recommend someone in your major to take a job that is offered until they get where they want to be or thug it out until they get their dream job?
Broadcast is all about experience. In this career, you will most likely have to sacrifice a lot of your wants and desires to gain that experience. I would recommend taking a position that gets your foot in the door and allows you to gain as much experience as possible. I told myself I would never live in the state of Mississippi and that's where my first and only job offer came from. I wasn't excited about the move but I was excited about the chance to prove myself at that station and eventually move up and move on. That entry-level job (in an area I never dreamed of living) opened my eyes to the industry. It was a place for me to grow and learn. I made plenty of mistakes during my time at that station but I also walked away with countless victories and plenty of experience. I would've wasted so much time had I turned it down and waited on my "dream job". Accepting that job gave me the experience I needed to land my current job, putting me even closer to my dream job.
I think the biggest thing that messes us up after graduating is the notion that once you graduate everything miraculously happens; you get your dream car, buy a house, get married, & have 2.5 kids with a white picket fence. lol. What was Kendra's perception of how life after graduating would be?
Lol! This is so real. Looking back on that time, all I can do is laugh. In my mind, I was going to land a job at a mid-market station in a fairly large city before graduation. I didn't have much planned out but I just knew I was going to be Robin Roberts fresh out of college. I was going to take over the industry and move up faster than any reporter that came before me. Needless to say... that didn't happen. There's levels to this! Lol. I had to be humble and learn from veterans around me. I had to take everything day-by-day. I realized I couldn't plan out each step and expect it to go accordingly. I had to learn to be flexible and adapt to difficult situations. That doesn't mean I didn't set goals though! My goals motivated me and kept me going. I'm just more open to change these days.
There's a young Mass Communication freshman looking up to you. What advice would you give him or her to help bridge the gap of where they are now to where you are now?
Wow. I would say so much. The first thing that comes to mind is START NOW. There are so many resources available in college that will prepare you for this industry. Join organizations relative to your major RIGHT AWAY. Don't just be a member, strive for leadership positions. Actively contribute to your university and your department by using your talents. Utilize your local news stations as well! Reach out to current reporters and ask them to be your mentor. Shadow them in your spare time. Apply for as many internships as possible and TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. Stay productive the entire time! Ask to go everywhere and do everything with the reporters and anchors. Learn how "behind the scenes" work as well. The more you know, the farther you'll go. It'll also make your classwork ten times easier. Make connections wherever you go! Network with as many people as possible. You never know where your next job may come from. Also, carry yourself as if you are already a reporter for a well-respected news station. Keep your social media platforms clean, engaging and informative. I could go on for days but basically, stay hungry. If you really want a career in Mass Communication it will require you to have thick skin, an open mind and a great attitude.
I want to first thank Kendra for her time & sharing her knowledge. I hope this helps someone in the Mass Comm journey. Comment your thoughts below as well as questions! Be on the lookout for more of the Life After Graduation series!