The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) held its annual convention and career fair this past week in the "Big Easy," and it was AMAZING to say the least. This was my first NABJ convention as a student member, and since it was in my hometown this year, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go.
At the convention, I felt like I had died and went to journalism heaven. Journalism has always been near and dear to my heart. I've always loved to read and write, especially growing up, because I was an only child for seven years before my sister came along. In the third grade, I created a fake TV show called“Beyoncé Knowles News.”This show was my pride and joy. I wrote scripts and commercials, and I would read them aloud to my audience, which was my stuffed animal. This was the moment that I realized that I wanted to be on TV telling my stories, my thoughts and my feelings. I've always loved storytelling and the creativity that evolves from it. Writing and storytelling allowed me to express myself in ways that I often couldn't, for I was extremely introverted growing up. Even though I didn't realize it at the time, journalism was and still is my safe space.
Guest speakers, panelists, celebrities and big names in the industry were all in attendance. The convention also featured interactive workshops, special screenings of upcoming TV films and several task force meetings. The career fair featured top media companies within the industry: CNN, Sinclair, Raycom Media, Scripps, CBS, TEGNA, ESPN, Google, Fox News...you name it! I took advantage of this unique opportunity to get a professional headshot taken, meet and network with professionals from companies that I would love to work for one day. I made a lot of great connections, and a consultant from CNN even critiqued my resume and gave me awesome advice!
One of the biggest takeaways from the conference was the knowledge that I gained in the two days that I was there. The Young Black Journalists (YBJ) task force meeting that I attended was insightful, in particular. The facilitators of the meeting were young, black professionals in the industry. The purpose of the event was to discuss how things are the in the industry and what to expect during the first couple of years out of college.
The goal is to get your foot in the door as a starting point. The facilitators emphasized how starting off in a smaller market can be beneficial because this is where you make mistakes, learn from them and develop a skill set through practice and experimentation. Once you have developed that skill set, you will become much more valuable to employers from a larger market. They also advised us to be open to going to places where people don't necessarily want to go. This is where you can really shine because you could be the first person to break a major news story since no one else is really there to cover a particular event. Also, in these smaller markets, the people in the newsroom become your family away from home and. are there to always support you.
I love the Spanish language, and I wanted to know how I could incorporate Spanish within a newsroom/ media setting. One of the mentors said that knowing another language, especially Spanish, makes you so much more marketable. Reading, writing and interpreting Spanish are skills that employers are looking for in order to reach another demographic, which is a huge market in itself.
My ultimate goal is to become an international journalist, travel to Spanish-speaking countries and produce my own stories and content. I am excited to see what the future holds, mainly because of my revelation in the third grade and NABJ for the motivation and determination to develop my craft and ultimately, get to do what I have always loved.